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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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Diagnostic Procedures - Evoked Potential (EP)

Neurological tests are an important part of diagnosis and treatment of birth brain injuries. There are some neurological tests that may be performed.

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Evoked potential tests utilize stimulation to determine the extent of injuries, particularly in infants with brain injuries and those in a coma. The procedures allow doctors to better examine and evaluate brain injuries and may be used to confirm brain death.

Evoked Potentials Study

Sensory evoked potentials studies are diagnostic tests done to measure brain electrical activity when exposed to various stimuli. The studies are especially helpful when trying to evaluate possible damage from a birth injury that impacted the brain or spine. These tests are non-invasive, so they are generally considered safe for infants. However, the child’s physician will decide whether any or all tests are appropriate for a particular patient.

Elk & Elk

There are three main types of evoked potential (EP) tests including those that measure visual, auditory and electrical stimuli. The doctor evaluates the results to determine whether the child’s senses have been impacted due to a brain injury. These specialized tests are not always available at all hospitals or medical centers. Your doctor will make arrangements to have these tests completed if they are deemed necessary.

Visual Evoked Potential Study

There are several types of evoked potential studies. However, infants and young children are typically tested with the visually evoked potential (VEP) test. The VEP test measures electrical activity in the visual system. It is useful for patients of all ages including infants. Those who are too young to recognize letters are usually given some other visual stimuli on cards such as patterns or pictures. The doctor observes the child’s reaction to the stimuli to determine how well the child can see.

Small sensors are placed on the infant’s skin, located on the back of the head and the earlobes. The child’s vision activity is captured by the test, and the doctor will review the results. The test may be completed separately for each eye if required. The VEP test is safe and is not painful or difficult.

Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) Test

The brainstem auditory evoked response (BAER) test is used to identify loss of hearing and issues with the nervous system in newborns and young children. The test is used to evaluate hearing ability in those who are unable to complete other hearing tests. Babies who suffered birth brain injuries could suffer various physical disabilities including the possibility of damage to the hearing system.

The test utilizes the measurement of electrical activity of the brain in response to sounds. It uses small electrodes that are placed attached to the patient’s head and lobes of the ears. These electrodes provide information to a computer that records responses when seven types of stimuli are presented to the patient. The test is one of the reliable ways to evaluate hearing loss in infants and young children.

Somatosensory Evoked Response (SSER) Test

Somatosensory evoked response test (SSER) is a study that measures electrical signals that are generated by the body’s nervous system as a response to outside stimuli. The SSER tests specifically for spinal cord problems. Electrodes are attached to the scalp and areas of the body that could be affected by numbness or paralysis such as on parts of the arms and legs. The electrodes are connected to a system that measures the responses between the brain and the areas in the body. The study is often used for infants who suffered a brain injury at birth. The extent of injuries may not be fully known. Since the child cannot yet respond to commands, the test is one of the only ways to find out whether there is a problem with the child’s brain or optic nerve.