Articles Posted in Brain Injuries from Birth

Much coverage has been devoted to the severe consequences of repeated brain injuries in adults, especially injuries related to professional athletics. Recently, some of that coverage has also indicated the severity of the effects of repeated brain injuries in college-level athletes as well as youth athletes. However, sports-related injuries are not the only source of brain injuries. Brain injuries can also occur from severe slip and walls, workplace-related accidents, vehicle collisions, and a variety of other incidents. Additionally, brain injuries can result from different medical conditions that potentially cause swelling in the brain. These types of brain injuries, called perinatal brain injuries when they affect full-term and premature infants, can be extremely harmful and may cause severe developmental or cognitive delays in newborns. According to Cerebral Palsy News Today, the National Institutes of Health will fund new research projects on potential treatments for perinatal brain injuries.

Goal of New Studies

One of the leading causes of perinatal brain injuries is known as hypoxia-ischemia (“HI”). HI occurs when an unborn child’s brain is deprived of oxygen for an extended period of time, thus causing the destruction of brain tissue. Such deprivation can cause the death of the unborn child or may lead to serious complications after birth such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy, developmental delays, motor impairments, or other significant impairments. The new studies will evaluate the best treatment methods for full-term and premature infants that have been exposed to HI as well as other perinatal brain injuries.

March is National Brain Injury Awareness month. This is the time of the year when there is a lot of focus on the cause and treatment of brain injuries, and what society can do to alleviate the suffering of those whose injuries are life threatening, or those individuals whose injuries leave them with a lifetime of total dependency on others for their everyday needs.

While any type of brain injury is serious, because it affects the organ that controls every other part of our body, some injuries are more severe than others. Some forms of brain stem injuries resulting in brain herniation will fall into that category.

Brain Stem Injuries
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One patient suffers a traumatic brain injury that ultimately leads to a permanent brain damage and life changing disabilities requiring continuous and monitored healthcare for the rest of his life, while another patient recovers sufficiently enough to continue an unrestrained lifestyle despite his injuries. Is the difference in the injury, the physical or psychological makeup of the individual, or something else? Could it be that there is a gene that influences the rate of recovery; or whether there is any recovery at all, from brain injury? Science has discovered sufficient evidence to prove that this may be the case.
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The miracle of birth is a wondrous thing. However, the birthing process is froth with many dangers for both mother and child. And even though there are a number of things that can go wrong during delivery, most births happen without incident. The actual labor is probably where most of the physical injuries occur. Some of these injuries may cause long lasting disabilities for the child and major hardships for the family. The following is a list of things that can go horribly wrong during childbirth.

Head Injuries

Head injuries due to trauma at birth, although rare, may sometimes happen as a result of negligence on the part of the hospital staff during delivery. Such injuries can result in brain damage or death for the infant, and pain and suffering for the family. A baby suffering from such injuries will most certainly have long lasting effects hindering their ability to grow and develop normally during their lifetime. It will require ongoing and continuous medical care throughout the child’s life.
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Researchers working with epidermal growth factor, or EGF, a naturally occurring substance, have found that, when administered soon after a birth injury, EGF can reverse various types of brain injuries that occur commonly in premature infants.

The most common birth injuries among premature infants are caused by lack of oxygen. In fact, tens of thousands of preemies each year suffer brain injuries due to oxygen deprivation. Many of these birth injuries include cerebral palsy or perinatal hypoxia.

Oxygen deprivation is common among premature infants because very premature babies – those born before the 32nd week of pregnancy – have underdeveloped lungs and blood cells. The lungs and blood cells are not yet capable of delivering adequate amounts of oxygen to the preemie’s brain following delivery. This leads to oxygen deprivation, and oxygen deprivation leads to the death of brain cells. Even though these preemies are hooked up to oxygen while in intensive care, they still suffer brain cell death.

On November 26, 2013, Erick Munoz found his pregnant wife Marlise unconscious. After she was admitted to John Peter Smith Hospital in Texas, Erick was told that his wife had suffered a traumatic brain injury and was brain dead. However, the fetus had survived, and the hospital hooked Marlise up to a respirator and ventilator. While mourning the loss of his wife, Erick had a difficult decision to make.

Erick and other family members decided to unhook Marlise from the machines as she had previously expressed a desire to never be kept alive by machines while brain dead. However, John Peter Smith Hospital refused, citing the Texas Advance Directives Act, a Texas statute designed to protect patient life, including fetal life in the instance of pregnancy. What resulted sparked a national debate about fetal rights in cases concerning mothers with severe brain injuries.

Advance Directives Act

We frequently report on the many different investigations currently underway to better understand how the brain works and figure out ways to prevent and treat brain injuries. The studies are often very diverse, because, after all, the brain is the most complex organ in the body. In fact, it is safe to say that the human brain is one of the most complex single machines on the planet. Research will naturally be similarly complicated and divergent, with researchers each tackling small pieces of the puzzle.

In this way we have learned much, from the general idea of neuroplasticity and the “cascading” effect of traumatic brain injuries to the harm caused by tau protein build-up. We have come a long way, but significant work remains before much of this new knowledge is transformed into concrete treatment options. That is not to say that medical experts are not on the case, from “cooling” techniques to prevent cascading to electrical stimuli on the tongue to stimulate regeneration of brain connections, there are some exciting prospects on the horizon that may result in real benefits for those suffering from all types of brain injuries, TBIs, degenerative injuries (i.e. dementia), and even those brain injuries that develop at birth.

The Promise of Stem Cells

Each Chicago medical malpractice attorney at our firm works with families who have suffered brain injuries as a result of negligent medical treatment. Unfortunately, one of the most common ways that brain injury lawsuits are filed which link to medical malpractice is when errors are made during childbirth. In these cases, infants often have oxygen deprived to their brain during birth with severe consequences. These children can face permanent disability or even death as a result.

When that happens and the injury was caused in whole or in part by the misconduct of medical professionals, then a civil suit is often appropriate. The legal system allows families affected to receive accountability and redress. In certain circumstances these cases can go to a trial, but more often than not a settlement is reached between the parties before the need to go through a trial.

In fact, our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys recently reached a settlement agreement with Northwestern Memorial Hospital on behalf of a family who lost a newborn after a brain injury.

Last week our Chicago brain injury lawyers read about a new lawsuit alleging that a newborn suffered a birth injury that may result in long-term brain damage. The suit essentially argues that the medical team at the hospital failed to properly take into the account the fact that a child is more likely to be born with a larger birth weight to a mother who has gestational diabetes.

According to Injury Lawyer News, the mother in this case was diagnosed with gestational diabetes in the middle of the pregnancy. This is usually caused by pregnancy hormones that interfere with the ability of insulin to work properly. The result is higher glucose levels in the mother’s blood. The expectant mother’s symptoms are often mild and can usually be controlled. However, there are some risks for the child, including the fact that the baby is more likely to be larger than normal at birth.

Large children are born all the time without complications, but they do present increased risk of complications during the pregnancy. Their bodies have a somewhat harder time exiting the birth canal because of their size. Doctors must account for these risks and make appropriate accommodations when planning for the pregnancy.

Each Chicago brain injury lawyer at our firm knows that verdicts in these cases are sometimes significant. Depending on the scope of the harm, the effects on the individual’s life, and many outside variables, the final verdict is often staggering. The amount always seems particularly large when delivered at the end of a case because it seeks to account for the consequences of the harm over the course of a lifetime in a single amount. That means that younger victims sometimes lead to higher verdicts, because the actual consequences will last for decades.

That was likely the case in a new brain injury case involving a birth injury on a newborn. The trial in the case recently ended with the jury reaching a large verdict for the plaintiff.

The Pott’s Mercury recently summarized the situation. According to the story the mother of the child in the case went to the hospital a few weeks before her due date. Medical records indicate that she was showing signs of placental abruption. This occurs when the placenta-which provides nutrients to the child-leaves the uterine wall. Of course, a fetus in the womb must have those nutrients; when there is a problem with the placenta, the consequences for the child can be life-threatening. That necessitates quick action on the part of medical professionals when dealing with the matter.

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