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Shrinking Brain Condition Baffles Scientists

Nothing in the medical field remains as mysterious as the brain. It is only in the very recent past that medical researchers and scientists have begun to slowly figure out how some of the brain works. However, the brain injury attorneys at our firm appreciate that it would be a mistake to forget that there are still more unanswered questions than there are answered ones.

That point is exhibited clearly in the case of nine-year old Jason Egan. According to a story in the Huffington Post this week, medical experts and some of the world’s leading neurogeneticists still are not sure what brain injury or condition is affecting the young child. The boy seemed to have the brain injury at birth. At a young age he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after exhibiting symptoms similar to those faced by cerebral palsy sufferers.

Our Illinois cerebral palsy lawyers have often shared that cerebral palsy (CP) can be caused by oxygen deprivation at birth. When problems develop during childbirth that limit the oxygen to neurons in the brain, permanent injuries can develop which cause a range of physical problems for the child. CP is an umbrella term that refers to a wide range of movement disorders often caused by that brain damage. Sufferers usually fall upon a spectrum, with various difficulties hearing, seeing, standing, walking, speaking, and controlling limbs. Experts explain that the condition can manifest itself as early as three month old, when children struggle to crawl. Usually after a year or two it becomes even clearer if a child is suffering from the condition.

In this case, the boy was unable to walk, talk, or feed himself. As a result he was initially diagnosed as suffering from cerebral palsy. However, as he aged his conditions seemed to get worse. This was a red flag for his doctors, because cerebral palsy is not progressive. Symptoms are not supposed to get worse over time. To figure out what was going on, his doctors gave the boy another brain scan. Amazingly, they found that, when compared to a scan given to the boy a few years earlier, his brain had shrunk considerably. There was simply no explanation for why this might have occurred.

In an attempt to figure out what might be causing the problem, the boy’s brain doctors tried essentially every diagnostic test in the book to conclusive rule out each possible cause. He did not have neuroaxonal dystrophy, the white matter in his brain was fine, and every other possible brain disease was tested for but not found.

So what caused the shrinking brain?

Doctors still have no idea. The best guess right now is the child may have some unique gene mutation that is little understood. T hat is why neurogeneticists are analyzing his DNA to see if a novel mutation can be identified. If identified, experts working on whatever gene happens to be mutating will take a look and see if anything can be learned from the situation.

In the short term, the family received good news recently when the latest brain scan revealed that the boy’s brain size had remained constant over the last year. That suggests that the condition might be abating. However, considering the case is rife with unknowns it is impossible to make any definitive conclusions.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Cerebral Palsy Primer: What It Is & When It Arises

Birth Injury Lawsuit Filed After Child Born with Cerebral Palsy