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Cooling Blankets Reduce Long-Term Consequences of Brain Injuries

Article provided by Lane & Lane, LLC

Lane & Lane, LLC in Chicago, understand that traumatic brain damage due to a lack of oxygen, is among the most tragic injuries a person can experience. A brain injury can lead to serious and lasting physical, psychological, and cognitive disabilities, coma, or even death. The victims of even “minor” brain injury are often forever changed in their personalities, and their lives and the lives of their families may be affected forever

Oxygen deprivation at birth can cause lifelong damage to a baby's brain. Without sufficient oxygen, a baby may develop a condition known as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).

As a result of HIE, the body initiates a series of measures to try to repair itself. In mild cases these efforts may be effective, but in moderate or extreme cases these attempted repairs can cause further brain damage. Newborns who develop HIE often face permanent developmental struggles, and in the most severe cases the condition can lead to death.

Over the past several years, though, doctors have developed a technique for reducing the long-term consequences of HIE. Through a process known as brain cooling, doctors have been able to improve the potential outcomes for babies who have suffered from oxygen deprivation.

With brain cooling, the doctor seeks to reduce the baby's core body temperature from 98 degrees to 91 degrees Fahrenheit using a blanket that is chilled with tubes of cold water. This cooling causes the baby's body systems to slow and decreases the swelling around the brain and cell death, which can help to prevent further brain damage. 

A recent study demonstrated that this procedure and the resulting reduction in swelling can reduce the risk of seizures, cerebral palsy and death from brain injuries at birth. Additionally, those newborns who received brain cooling demonstrated improved mental scores, motor skills and vision as compared to those oxygen-deprived babies who did not receive this treatment.

The procedure still comes with limitations. The cooling must be initiated within six hours of birth, which offers a limited time frame for action. The cooling blankets are currently only used at a limited number of medical centers, which means that all babies suffering from HIE may not have access to this technique. 

Furthermore, because it is a relatively new process, doctors do not yet know the effects of brain cooling on long-term development. However, the early results are promising and the procedure has offered significant relief for many parents who might have otherwise had little hope.

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Chicago brain injury attorneys Lane and Lane specialize in cases involving birth injuries such as cerebral palsy, lack of oxygen to the brain as well as toxic brain injury. If you or a loved one have been affected by a brain injury please contact Lane & Lane at   312-957-4656 or visit online to schedule a free consultation today

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