Infant brains are vulnerable to damage that may occur during childbirth. Asphyxia due to complications, infections in the mother that have gone untreated, being born with jaundice, and even excessive force used during delivery can all cause brain damage. Infant brain damage may be mild or severe and long-lasting. It may cause development delays, cognitive impairments, paralysis, or conditions like cerebral palsy.
Infant brain damage treatment strategies vary depending on the type of damage, the extent of the damage and the symptoms caused by the brain damage. If you have a child that was born with brain damage, it is important to understand what all your treatment options are. It is also important that you consider the fact that malpractice or negligence could have played a role in your child’s brain damage. If it did, he could be eligible to receive compensation through a lawsuit or settlement.
Infant Brain Damage
Infants may suffer brain damage for a variety of reasons, many stemming from mistakes and complications of child birth. Asphyxia is a leading cause, which occurs when an infant is deprived of oxygen for a significant period of time. This may be caused by complications with the umbilical cord or placenta, because of illness in the mother, or when a child’s head becomes lodged in the pelvis during labor.
Infant brain damage treatments are most effective then the damage is recognized and diagnosed immediately. Unfortunately this doesn’t always happen because symptoms may be mild or may only become obvious as a child grows. If brain damage is obvious immediately after birth, interventions like surgery or hypothermic treatment may be used. If it is not noticed until later, a child may need to rely on various therapies and educational interventions to treat the symptoms rather than the actual brain damage.
Surgery is usually only a valid infant brain damage treatment when the damage is caused by severe head trauma. A skull fracture or bleeding on the brain, for instance, can be treated with surgery. This kind of damage may be caused by a difficult delivery or from inappropriate use of instruments during delivery. Bleeding on the brain is called a hemorrhage and it is often treated by draining the blood or other fluids that collect in and put pressure on the brain. A skull fracture may or may not need surgical treatment depending on the type or severity.
One of the newest and most innovative treatments for infant brain damage is called hypothermia or hypothermic treatment and involves cooling the baby’s brain to prevent or reverse damage. A study conducted in 2009 found that most babies at risk for brain damage benefited from this treatment. It is thought that by cooling the brain, harmful substances are prevented from forming. These substances may be responsible for killing cells I the brain.
Hypothermia treatment uses cooling to lower a baby’s body temperature from the normal 98.6 degrees to 92.3 degrees. This lower temperature is maintained for about 72 hours. The treatment can be used in any newborn suspected of having suffered brain damage during birth. Babies who have undergone the treatment were found to have fewer complications of brain damage when examined at 18 months. It remains to be seen if the positive effects of the treatment will last longer than that.
Depending on the symptoms of the brain damage in an infant, medications may be a part of the treatment plan. For instance, seizures may be the result of brain damage and can be treated with anti-seizure medications like benzodiazepines. Babies are also sometimes given diuretic medications, which increase urine production. These help to reduce the buildup of fluids in the body.
As a child gets older and struggles with developmental or behavioral challenges as the result of brain damage, medications can help. For instance, the amphetamine drugs used to treat ADHD may help children with brain damage control their impulses and aggressive behaviors and also help them to focus and concentrate in school and in other settings.
For children who will live with the consequences of infant brain damage over the long-term, various types of therapy can help treat symptoms. When there are physical symptoms of brain damage, for instance, physical therapy can help a child learn to move more easily and may reduce pain. Physical therapy may include strength training, flexibility exercises, training for coordination and balance, massage, thermal treatments, and exercises to help move joints.
Occupational therapy may also be a treatment for the symptoms of brain damage. This type of therapy helps children learn how to overcome the challenges that the damage has left them with. A therapist may help a child learn how to use the bathroom, perform typical hygiene practices, use pencils or tablets, learn how to eat without assistance, and other ordinary tasks that most of us take for granted. These therapists can also help children learn how to use adaptive equipment like wheelchairs.
Many children with brain damage caused in infancy will grow up to have cognitive deficits or learning disabilities. These do not have to hold them back, however, and educational interventions, especially applied early can help them catch up to their peers. For instance, speech and language therapy can help a child who is struggling to talk or to learn new vocabulary at a typical rate.
Infant brain damage treatment depends on individual factors with each child. When brain damage is immediately recognizable, quick interventions like surgery or hypothermic treatment can help. When it is not so obvious and only appears as developmental symptoms later, various types of therapeutic treatment can help a child recover.
If your child is struggling because of brain damage, know that there are treatment options that can help. Also know that if someone was responsible for your child’s brain damage because of medical malpractice, you have options to seek compensation. An experienced malpractice lawyer can help you file a lawsuit and get the compensation your child needs.