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Did Your Newborn Suffer Cerebral
Palsy or Another Brain Injury Before
or During Labor and Delivery?

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Our Birth Brain Injury Resource Guide

the guide

Get a FREE guide of resources available throughout Ohio to children and families of children who were born with brain injuries.

Our guide can help you build a foundation of knowledge and tools that will help you help your child
now and in the future.

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Brain Injury and Allocation of Limited Resources - Effort and Capacity

Cognitive abilities such as attention span require a number of physiological resources. In the case of a brain injury sustained at birth, these may not be fully available. Just as treating an individual with such an injury requires potentially limited resources to be on hand, the biological resources are important as well.

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One theory that describes mental function is the capacity theory of attention, as described in the book Attention and Effort. It explains a limit on the capacity to do mental work and that the limited capacity one has that can be allocated based on the priority of activities. The theory is of how a person pays attention to something and acts on it. There are different demands imposed by different types of mental activities.

Decision making, perception, allocating effort and allocating attention all require effort. One can, therefore, see the impacts of a brain injury on effort and capacity, which have much to do with attention span and decision making. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is one condition commonly seen in children with brain injuries. Cognitive flexibility, planning, and organization are areas identified by the Child Neurology Foundation as well.

Elk & Elk

Capacity can be limited in a number of areas. A child with a traumatic brain injury sustained at birth or later may suffer impairments in language, memory, and reasoning in addition to attention. Problem-solving skills may be impaired, and the individual may have problems with judgment and processing information. A great amount of effort may be needed to overcome such challenges, but proper therapy can train the individual to compensate to some degree or even trigger the needed neurological connections to be made. A flexible brain in a young person makes this possible, but the results from person to person do vary. Physical abnormalities and learning disabilities such as dyslexia and autism can impact the resources in the brain available to process and utilize information. A psychologist or other professional can step in and assess the deficits, especially if a brain injury, genetic issue, prematurity, or another diagnosis at an early age is made. In part, IQ is used to measure intellectual ability but is not the only measure used. Adaptive behavior assessments and other investigations are also needed to, accurately determine a child’s mental capacity.