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Brain Damage From Reduced Blood Flow

Just as the brain requires oxygen to function, it also requires the blood flow that brings that oxygen. If the blood supply to the brain is reduced, it can cause serious, long-lasting problems. The medical term for this is brain ischemia, and it can be severe. If your loved one’s was caused by a doctor’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation.

Common Causes and Results

Brain ischemia occurs when blood flow is stopped or drastically reduced, and as a result, the brain becomes starved of oxygen. When the brain loses oxygen, it tries to pull it from other areas of the body, so to speak, which can leave other organs without oxygen and put them in a malfunctioning or non-functioning state. While brain ischemia can and does happen in adults, the most cases are seen in babies, particularly at birth.

In babies, there are several causes for a lack of blood flow to the brain, only some of which might be a result of a doctor’s malpractice. The more common conditions that may cause brain ischemia are:

  • Preeclampsia;
  • A prolapsed or pinched umbilical cord;
  • Shoulder dystocia (a condition in which the baby becomes stuck in the birth canal);
  • An overdose of certain medications used to induce labor, such as Pitocin; and
  • Infection of the mother, child or both.

Brain ischemia can cause long-lasting injuries, especially to a newborn, who may lack some of the physical coping mechanisms of older people. Some of the more common are seizure disorders like epilepsy, developmental delays, and cerebral palsy (CP). CP is the most common birth injury.

How To Diagnose Brain Ischemia?

It can be difficult to discern when a baby has sustained brain ischemia versus another condition or injury. It is important to use all tools available to successfully diagnose a brain injury – if this is not done, it may be grounds for liability for failure to diagnose.

Fetal monitoring strips can tell part of the story. While they are difficult for some to read, medical professionals are well versed in decoding them and should be able to tell if there are any irregularities in the baby’s breathing or vital signs. If the strips are inconclusive, a child’s Apgar score may also point in the right direction. The Apgar score grades newborns on five characteristics just after birth, then at five minutes, and then at ten minutes if it is thought necessary. If the Apgar score is low right after birth, it is a marker that the baby may have sustained some kind of hypoxic injury. After that, MRIs are usually the next step.

However, one should not underestimate the importance of simple observation. Children with brain injuries do not move or react the way that an uninjured child would – they may appear sluggish, with their eyes less responsive than would be normal.

Contact A Brain Injury Attorney

If you believe your child has sustained a brain injury due to the negligence of a medical professional, we may be able to assist. Gary Roberts & Associates in West Palm Beach has medical experts on staff and a long history of success in brain injury cases. We have flexible hours, for your convenience, and are able to accommodate Spanish-speaking clients. Contact our offices today for a free initial consultation, and we will be happy to discuss your options with you.

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