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

Learn More

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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How you can support your child’s recovery - revised

Suffering from Brain Injury (BI) at birth impacts every aspect of infants’ life, as they grow and develop. Behavior, cognition, emotions, communications, physical abilities, and interpersonal relationships are all affected.

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Recovering from a BI is a long, difficult process that affects the entire family. The parents and siblings must make ongoing adjustments to family roles, responsibilities, activities, and schedules. When your child reaches school-age, there will often be changes in their education as teachers adjust instruction to help with special needs.

Health Care Team

As a parent, you are not alone in supporting your child through recovery following a BI. Multiple parties will help with the process. The health care team is an essential piece of the puzzle. They supply support and information you will need. The team can help tailor a treatment plan for the patient and assist parents in learning the skills they will need to support the child at home.

Elk & Elk

As a parent, you are a key part of this health care team. Contribution and involvement in decisions regarding rehabilitation and treatment are important to recovery. The participations of various family members, school staff, and caregivers also assist in a successful return to home and the community.

Professional members of the health care team may include:

  • The primary care doctor
  • Rehabilitation nurses
  • Neuropsychologists
  • Physical therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Social workers
  • And other professionals


It can take months or years to recover from a BI. However, employing coping strategies can help life gradually feel normal for your child and family. Keep in mind that different children respond differently to brain injury, and each treatment plan is unique. Factors like severity, and location in the brain all affect recovery outcomes. Work with your health care team to determine the right course of action.

Most infants with BI go through similar stages of recovery. The duration and outcome of each stage can be unpredictable, and a patient may shift back and forth between stages during recovery.


Within a few weeks, following the BI, changes in brain chemistry can impact brain function. Your baby may experience bleeding or swelling. The eyes may remain closed with no signs of awareness. As the swelling goes down, brain chemistry, blood flow, and brain function improve. Your child will be able to open his or her eyes, respond, and have improved sleep cycles.

Most patients then go through a stage of confusion and disorientation. During this, infants can’t learn new things and may act frustrated, restless, or nervous. Your child might overreact to stimulation and become aggressive. Sleeping patterns are sometimes still disrupted during this stage. To aid in your child’s recovery, it’s important to create a calm, relaxed environment—limit the number of visitors, keep lights dim, and keep distracting noises (e.g., television, music) to a minimum.

As your baby continues to recover, you may see improved brain function. His or her ability to respond might increase slowly. Over time, certain areas of the brain can sometimes learn to compensate for the lost abilities in the damaged parts.

Returning Home

After your child leaves the hospital, there is still a lot recovering left to do. The patient will face challenges when adjusting to life at home, school, and community.

Following BI, family roles and relationships can change. The parents and siblings are sorting through a range of emotions—confusion, anger, grief, guilt, frustration, helplessness. The patient with BI behaves, thinks, and talks differently. Siblings could feel confused, jealous, or neglected. Siblings may not know how to act around a brother or sister with BI.

Addressing relationship issues is key to supporting your baby’s recovery. Be sure to communicate openly with family members early on. Encourage everyone to talk about their feelings, so you can identify any stressors and find solutions. It’s important not to place blame or guilt on anyone. If the situation becomes too stressful, you may consider seeking professional family counseling.

Starting School

As your child grows, he or she will eventually be old enough to start school. School can be important for educational and social reasons. Children interact with friends, develop social skills, and build knowledge. Parents might want to visit the school prior to return and explain BI to the classmates.

Federal law requires public schools to make modifications and accommodations. A gradual return to school helps make the transition easier. Special needs vary from person to person. Work with your health team and the child’s school to decide what is the best course of action for his or her unique needs. It may take several meetings to develop an Individual Education Plan. It is important for parents to attend these meetings to be an advocate for their child.