Infant brain damage can occur in a variety of ways, with varying severity depending on the location of the injury within the brain. There are several treatment options available, and what works for one child will not necessarily have the same effect for another. Before the treatment process begins, your child will undergo an assessment that can include CT or MRI scans and the Glasgow Coma Scale. Your child may require all of these, or only one or two depending on the severity of the brain injury. Some younger children will only be given a CT scan if the symptoms appear to be getting worse, and they have a score of 15 on the Glasgow scale.
These assessments provide your child’s physician with a better understanding of the brain damage that is present, which will provide some guidance as to the first treatments that might be needed for the infant. The following are some of the most common treatments used for treating infant brain damage.
Infants suffering from the most severe brain damage due to severe trauma at delivery often require surgery. In these instances, surgery can help address any fractures or bleeding vessels, and prevent further damage from occurring. The type of surgery used will depend on the injury. During craniotomy surgery, the surgeon will remove a flap of bone to gain access to the areas that need repair. Once the surgery is completed, the bone is reattached using plates and screws to keep it in place.
Another common type of surgery for infant brain damage is decompressive craniectomy. This surgery is somewhat controversial due to the removal of a large piece of the skull. However, removing this section provides space for brains that are swelling, helping to relieve the dangerous pressure that can ultimately lead to death.
Therapy is often needed to help infants who may have cognitive, physical and emotional disabilities due to the brain injury. The types of therapies used may include:
- Occupational Therapy – Children who have brain damage may have difficulty with normal daily activities such as swallowing, eating, using the toilet, grooming and getting dressed on their own. Occupational therapy works by developing a plan to determine which skills should be the focus of therapy. Once assessed, the therapist will work with your child to help develop the skills that will provide a better quality of life. This type of therapy is also helpful for children suffering from cognitive and emotional issues as well.
- Physical Therapy – This type of therapy works with the child to help them increase their flexibility, coordination, balance and strength to help them achieve greater independence. Through a variety of exercises and treatments, the therapist will work with your child to help develop better skills in the areas in which he or she is lacking. When choosing a physical therapist for your child, you will want to ensure that the one you choose has a background in helping children specifically that have brain damage for the best possible outcomes.
Infant brain damage can result in the child having seizures, frequent infections, and swelling and pain in the head. There are a variety of medications that may be used to treat these children, including anti-seizure medications, diuretics to help reduce swelling, and as the child gets older, behavioral medications to assist with conditions such as ADHD.
There are a variety of treatment options available for infant brain damage. After a careful assessment, your child’s doctor will work closely with you to determine the best options for treatment, both now and in the future. If you ever have any concerns, make sure you speak with your child’s doctor to address them.