Activity Within Womb Affects Brain Development

The Yale Daily News published an article this week that caught the eye of our Chicago brain injury lawyers about new information regarding brain development. As blog readers know, this is an exciting time for all those working in fields related to brain injuries, because new information about the workings of the brain are just now slowly being unraveled. For the longest time, there was essentially little to no information available about the most complex issues of brain functioning and development. That is changing.

Yale researchers recently released information on a new study which discovered information about how the nervous system linking the eyes and brain develop in new babies. The research, published last month in the journal Nature Neuroscience, found that brain development is actually affected even while the child is in the womb from immature neural circuits. This affects how the child builds connection between the eyes and brain. This means that even when the eyes of the unborn baby are closed, they still produce messages which are sent to the brain helping to ensure that the wiring system of the child develops correctly. This discovery was reached, as is often the case in brain research, through use of newborn mice.

The lead researchers summarized by explaining that, “There was speculation based on theories about how activity might shape brain development, but nobody has previously manipulated the temporal pattern of activity in the two eyes in vivo, and examined the consequence on brain wiring.”

Involved researchers explained that the development of neural circuits between the eyes and brain is similar to that of other systems including the spinal cord and other parts of the brain. This means that similar in vitro activities may play a role in overall development.

All of these developments may impact brain injury lawsuits. Here’s how…

For one thing, when one suffers an injury that affects their brain, a lawsuit is only implicated when another party acted negligently which contributed to that brain injury. Negligence is based on a reasonableness standard which takes into account the information that was (or should have been known) to the individual involved. The more that medical professionals learn about these brain issues (and the more that the information becomes common knowledge among professionals), the standard of reasonableness is influenced. Doctors will be required to take this information into account and may be held responsible for failing to prevent preventable injuries if they do not take the information into account.

In addition, these advances will-hopefully-lead to improvements in treatment options for brain injury victims. When a brain injury lawsuit is filed and won, the damage portion of the case includes evaluation of a wide range of issues, including the help that the victim will need in the future, the cost of that aid, and the long-term consequences. Increased knowledge about brain injury recovery will therefore factor into damage assessments in brain injury cases. A brain injury lawyer could see how advances could both lower awards or increase them. If certain harm can be reversed, the awards for long-term harm might be lessened. Conversely, families will more readily ask for increased awards to ensure that they actually have the funds they need to access these new treatment options.

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