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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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Delayed Neurological Complications after Head Trauma - Cognitive Decline

Infants who suffer a brain injury during birth could have complications that don’t occur immediately. In some instances, the patient may experience cognitive decline. This is possible after a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) of the brain. Although the immediate medical emergency of a hemorrhage was resolved, there could be problems that arise later.

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Secondary Effects of Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

A brain bleed such as an SAH is very serious. The immediate effects include transient loss of oxygen to some areas of the brain and problems in the cerebrum due to blood. There are also some potential secondary effects of brain bleeds that could cause the cognitive decline of a patient. The pressure inside the cerebrum could increase, there could be further damage to brain cells due to bleeding, there could be a brain shift or the patient could experience a brain hernia.

These complications may lead to a decline in cognitive function, and in extreme cases, it could lead to death. A complication such as this is considered a medical emergency and must be evaluated and treated quickly. Testing for these issues may include x-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans. These scans will provide important information that determines how the doctor should treat the situation.

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Delayed Cerebral Ischemia

Delayed cerebral ischemia (DCI) can cause a serious decline in the patient’s brain function. The situation can occur even if the immediate complications were handled medically. Some patients have a poor outcome, and some who suffer DCI might die. DCI may be caused by many factors that may together cause a serious and potentially fatal response. The effects of various treatments to care for the original or subsequent brain injury could contribute to DCI. DCI must be identified and treated as quickly as possible to attain the best possible outcome.

The type of delayed neurological complications depends greatly on the area of the brain that is affected and the severity of an original injury. Additionally, the aggressiveness of treatment of an original injury could have an impact on complications that present themselves later. The major areas of the cerebrum include:

  • Frontal Lobe – Controls coordinated movements, problem-solving, judgments and emotions.
  • Parietal Lobe – This area controls the senses such as touch, pain recognition, pressure, and temperature.
  • Temporal Lobe – Controls hearing and functions associated with memories, fear and may also impact speech and language.
  • Occipital Lobe – Controls vision along with the processing of reading.
  • Brainstem – The brainstem is the area that connects the cerebrum to the body and through which all signals pass. It controls the central nervous system and regulates the functions of the body’s major organs.

Regular Neurological Testing

Those who suffered a birth injury could have problems at any time throughout their lives. It is necessary to continue to have regular neurological tests completed. These tests are very helpful because they can be compared to previous studies to see whether the patient is experiencing any symptoms that warrant attention.

The major areas of review in the neurological exam include mental status, cranial nerves, muscles, reflexes, coordination, sensory functionality, and walk. Additionally, MRI and CT scans are extremely helpful in identifying a potential problem before it becomes severe. Scans are reviewed to see whether there has been any further damage in the cranium or whether the original damage has spread.

Those who have suffered from a birth injury may require continued testing and review over the person’s entire life. Changes in the person could indicate a possible problem. For instance, any cognitive issues could be a symptom of a delayed complication that could lead to decline. These problems could present themselves at almost any time during the person’s life.