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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 – Rehabilitation

The idea of rehabilitation following any brain injury has advanced with the concept of neuroplasticity.

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For infants, the effects of situations such as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy can be severe, but the reorganization of neurons has been observed in cases of hypoxia and intraventricular hemorrhage in which the newborn survives. Even if epilepsy, learning disabilities, or cerebral palsy develop, rehabilitative measures can be taken to increase the chances of improving developmental outcomes.

There are a lot of factors to consider with pediatric brain injuries. First, the brain is still developing and is more fragile. The damage that occurs can have major consequences down the road as areas that haven’t yet fully developed must be repaired. Family involvement in recovery and its overall function play a role, as does the coping abilities of everyone involved.

Elk & Elk

Early intervention is also important. However, it is hard to intervene when a baby hasn’t developed the ability to walk, speak, and think abstractly or even socialize. Close monitoring at every stage of development can help spot deficiencies early. It can also help to keep a close eye on infants at greater risk, such as those born prematurely. A lack of oxygen is often the reason premature infants sustain brain injuries more often than those born full term, and damages message-carrying tissues of the white matter. Damaging the insulating myelin, oxygen deprivation often occurs because the lungs aren’t fully developed, and can occur if fragile blood vessels rupture and bleed.

Challenges to Rehabilitating a Brain-Injured Infant

Sensory and motor stimulation is often used with babies that have sustained brain injuries. For motor and mental development, a standardized measure is the Bayley Scales of Infant Development. This is one way to take measures, but physicians also use medical scans such as magnetic resonance imaging at certain times to track brain physiology. Studies of brain injury rehabilitation have also focused on examinations, which cover neurological factors such as developmental delays, movement, reflexes, hearing, and head circumference.

The effectiveness of rehabilitation can also be impacted by other things. Factors include the nature of the injury and when it occurred. Initial treatments can affect the outcome as well. Later on, early therapy can focus on stimulation, physical and mental abilities, and learn how to compensate for lost skills. Memory, attention span, and mobility can be addressed even later. Even then, the months and years following an injury require rehabilitation of abilities that might not have developed yet at the time of injury.

Rehabilitation often has the best outcome when provided through a specialized program. If clinicians have insights into the specific diagnosis and impairment, they can proceed with a process that caters to a child’s needs as they grow and develop. Family involvement is a bonus, as the support of parents and other relatives can help encourage and motivate the child. Plus, evolving knowledge of neuroplasticity, genetics, and the interaction of the immature brain between recovery and development helps to identify techniques that may ultimately lead to better outcomes.