Cleveland Birth Injury Lawyers Show How Hypothermic Brain and Body Cooling is Beneficial for Brain Injuries
Many brain injuries have shown improvement after cooling treatments
After someone suffers head trauma, there are many steps medical professionals take to attempt to halt or reverse brain damage. Inducing hypothermia (below normal temperature, or cooling) in a practice called therapeutic hypothermia has shown promising benefits for those who have suffered brain injuries. At The Eisen Law Firm, our Cleveland medical malpractice attorneys are knowledgeable in multiple treatments for brain injuries, and fight for the compensation our clients deserve if they did not receive proper treatment.
Many drugs and other types of therapy focus on a single process in the brain. However, therapeutic hypothermia has the advantage of being able to inhibit several potentially harmful processes at once. Therefore, where certain drugs have failed to reverse the negative effects of a brain injury, therapeutic hypothermia may be a beneficial alternative.
For example, after a traumatic brain injury, the body produces certain chemicals that may cause further harm to the damaged tissue. Therapeutic hypothermia may slow or prevent the release of these chemicals. In addition, introducing hypothermia reduces the amount of oxygen the brain requires, which may also provide additional protection.
Therapeutic hypothermia has been shown to reduce intracranial pressure and other “secondary” injuries following a traumatic insult to the brain. Whereas primary injuries result from the initial trauma to the brain, secondary injuries are triggered by the trauma. Secondary injuries are a major factor in brain damage and death that results from trauma to the brain. Common secondary injuries include:
- Insufficient blood flow (ischemia)
- Insufficient oxygen (hypoxia)
- Brain swelling
- Excessive carbon dioxide in the brain
- Meningitis (infection of a tissue layer covering the brain)
Preventing secondary injuries dramatically improves a patient’s prognosis.
Therapeutic hypothermia is believed to be most beneficial in patients who are between 16 and 45 years of age. The target body temperature appears to be 35 degrees Celsius, or 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Initiation of therapeutic hypothermia should be initiated within two hours of the brain injury for best results.
Therapeutic hypothermia and newborns
The benefits of therapeutic hypothermia are not only restricted to adults with brain injuries. Therapeutic hypothermia is also beneficial for newborns facing certain brain injuries and diseases shortly after birth.
The National Institutes of Health has noted, for example, that hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, or HIE, occurs in up to 6 of every 1,000 births. HIE is the brain injury caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain (often occurring during labor or delivery), frequently resulting in destroyed brain tissue. HIE is extremely dangerous–roughly 15 to 20 percent of babies who develop it do not survive.
However, therapeutic hypothermia has helped some babies with HIE. The body temperature of these babies is kept at about 33 degrees Celsius, or 91.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
In one study, the chances of severe brain injury were reduced by 25 percent in term-born babies who demonstrated poor transition or low APGAR scores, which can be early indicators of HIE. Strongest improvements were seen in babies who received treatment within a few hours of birth.
Therapeutic hypothermia may be beneficial in the following situations:
- Fetal heart abnormalities are detected on monitoring during labor
- Meconium is detected in the amniotic fluid during labor or delivery
- Difficult deliveries
- The baby is too large or too small for its gestational age
- A decrease in oxygen in the mother’s blood is detected before birth
- After a delayed C-section
- Problems with umbilical cord, resulting in oxygen deprivation to the baby
- Preeclampsia in the mother
- Anemia (blood loss) in the baby
- Premature birth
In these situations, a baby should be closely monitored to determine if therapeutic hypothermia should be initiated.
Time is precious after a brain injury
After someone has suffered a brain injury, every second counts. Delaying medical treatment for even a few minutes can have severe consequences and lead to paralysis, permanent disability, or death. Unfortunately, many medical providers fail to take proper action when a brain injury has occurred.
Contact our Cleveland birth injury attorneys today for legal guidance
If a loved one suffered a brain injury due to improper ventilation or failure to use therapeutic hypothermia, contact The Eisen Law Firm and let our skilled attorneys evaluate your claim in a free consultation. Our attorneys are not afraid to fight hospitals and medical professionals who may have caused you or your loved ones harm. To schedule your free consultation, call The Eisen Law Firm at 216-687-0900 or contact us online.