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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 News and Research – Family Concerns

Research has shown that traumatic brain injury, including that which occurs at birth, can be difficult on families and caregivers. A paper published in Advances in Psychiatric Treatment in 2001 noted the vulnerability of the brain during fetal development and birth.

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Infections, metabolic disturbances, and a variety of other factors can be involved in various types of brain trauma. However, the effects aren’t limited to the physical, mental, and cognitive impacts on the child. Families are affected in a number of ways.

Role of the Caregiver

The primary caregiver, often a parent, can go through the stages of a process that resembles grief or loss. A mourning process is exacerbated by the fact the outcome of an infant’s brain injury is so uncertain. Even doctors may not know what impairments the child will have later. As such, the organization and function of the family may not be fully understood as it needs to accommodate unforeseen physical, emotional, and academic deficits that need to be cared for.

Elk & Elk

Caregivers often go through a few stages of recovery. Their responsibilities at home and work are often neglected as the baby is in the hospital. Even afterward, family members and friends must help them through various emotions. Grief, disbelief, and trouble accepting the situation are often experienced. One may hope for a successful, quick recovery once rehabilitation starts, but they may also become more aware that the injury and impairments may be permanent.

Concerns for the person include withdrawal from social opportunities, plus physical and psychological health problems. They may be extremely irritable and even express anger towards the infant. Family members can consider counseling, peer support groups, family therapy, or respite services to assist the caregiver in regaining their strength.

Concerns for the Overall Family Unit

These go beyond deciding who should take on what responsibilities, although this is important for parents, spouses, partners, and even siblings. Family members may feel guilty or responsible for a brain injury. Neglect of medical tests or habits of a mother during pregnancy can factor in here. One partner may start to blame the other, but depression and difficulty coping with the injury and its outcome can be quite difficult as well.

Family members can also feel helpless because they don’t know enough about the child’s condition, treatment options, or what resources are available and where they can find them. Overcoming potential limitations can be a reason. Brain-injured babies and children can become increasingly difficult as well, so physical care can become more challenging. Managing this behavior takes time and effort, taking away from attention on siblings who may see it as unfair.

Finances are another concern, as a parent (or even both) may have to stop working to spend time with the child. Reduced income is a concern, especially when there are increased expenses related to medical treatment, therapy, and care.

A team approach has been stressed to address general family challenges. It can improve planning and reduce the demand and stress on the caregiver, but professional interventions from therapists and others are often needed for therapeutic reasons and guidance.