What is the Recovery Process of Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy?

Recovery from hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, a type of brain injury that occurs due to limited oxygen to the brain for a period of time, is dependent on numerous factors. The condition, often called HIE, is the result of an interruption of oxygen moving through the brain and ischemia, a type of restriction on blood flow. Where this occurs, how long it lasts, and factors related to the child’s overall health otherwise play a role in the recovery process and the extent of that recovery. Talk to a Portland hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy attorney from Paulson Coletti, PC, today.

Staging and Treatment Determine Recovery

In most situations, doctors will evaluate a child after a period of lack of oxygen to monitor the child’s alertness, pupils, respiration rate, any seizure activity, and muscle tone. They then assign a stage based on the length of time abnormal symptoms remain, ranging from mild forms to severe.

Treatment for a child with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy is dependent on the stage of the injury and the symptoms they have. The only effective treatment is the use of therapeutic hypothermia treatment, also known as brain cooling. This can only benefit the child within 6 hours of birth as it works to slow the death of brain cells.

Additional treatment options may be considered, including:

  • Using anti-seizure medications
  • Stabilizing the child’s blood pressure
  • Monitoring the function of kidneys and heart
  • Providing supplemental breathing support if the child cannot breathe on their own

Many times, after initial treatment, a child will need ongoing care. This includes necessary occupational, physical, or speech therapy to reduce or eliminate the disabilities this condition typically brings on.

Prognosis of HIE Infants

The long-term expected recovery of a child with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy is dependent on how long the child was without oxygen to the brain. If this was just a very short period of time, no disabilities will occur. However, those with longer periods of time without oxygen are more likely to suffer complications. In the most severe cases, the child may have a higher risk of early death.

Some of the complications of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy include:

  • Hearing impairments
  • Epilepsy
  • Visual impairments
  • Cerebral palsy

One of the most complicated factors in hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy recovery is that some of the signs may take years to become obvious. Over the child’s growth, the frontal lobe will not develop properly. However, this area of the brain does not fully start to develop until around the age of 10.

In a child with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, parents of children around this age may begin to notice significant changes in the child’s behavior and overall mental health. They may exhibit signs of aggression or a lack of control of emotions that seem to be new and out of place for the child.

If the child has a more serious form of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, long-term health complications typically occur from birth. A common occurrence is the development of cerebral palsy, which can impact a child’s overall developmental abilities.

Ultimately, recovery is dependent on how long the child suffered a lack of oxygen to the brain and whether any treatment was provided. In many situations, recovery from hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy is limited, requiring long-term support and permanent disability.

Call the office of Paulson Coletti, PC, to schedule a free consultation today if your child suffers from hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy.