What is a Birth Injury?
A birth injury is damage that occurs to the baby resulting from physical pressure during the delivery process. While many newborns sustain minor birth injuries at birth and recover with no complications, other injuries can pose life-long complications. Head and brain injuries are the most common during birth. They can be caused by the use of forceps or vacuum extraction, premature labor, and medical conditions such as preeclampsia. When not appropriately monitored and caught early on, this can increase the risk of a birth injury.
A severe birth injury such as brain trauma or oxygen deprivation at birth can pose life-long complications for a child. Here are some of the challenges someone born with a brain injury could face.
A birth injury can hinder physical development and limit a person's mobility for a lifetime. For example, injuries to the spinal cord or brachial plexus injuries can cause paralysis leaving someone unable to walk or function independently without mobility assistance equipment like crutches or wheelchairs. Brain injuries at birth and oxygen deprivation can cause cerebral palsy and affect fine motor skills and coordination. Someone with cerebral palsy and paralysis may have difficulties with breathing, speaking, or eating.
Someone who has long-term mobility problems will often need special devices and modifications made to their home or caregiver's home to ensure they have adequate accommodations to meet their disability needs. Some common items and modifications may include:
- Shower chairs
- Shower bars
- Toilet lifts
Not only will someone with a severe birth injury need special devices and home modifications, but they often will have long-term medical issues that will require costly medical care, medication, and other therapies. This can cause families a sizable financial burden. Parents of children who live with a birth injury will often have to make career changes and structure their daily routines around doctor appointments, therapies, and treatments. When it comes to giving a child the best quality of life after a birth injury, the financial ramifications can be overwhelming.
Living with a birth injury such as cerebral palsy can mean long-term medical care, treatments, and medications. One common problem with a birth injury is muscle stiffness and spasticity. The following are common types of drugs that are used to relieve muscle tightness conditions.
Muscle or nerve injections
To treat muscle tightening, doctors may prescribe Botox or Dysport injections to relieve tightening. These types of injections typically need to be administered every three months. Side effects may include:
- Pain at the injection site.
- Flu-like symptoms.
- Breathing or swallowing problems.
Oral muscle relaxants
If muscle injections are not an option, doctors may prescribe the following oral medications to help treat muscle stiffness:
- Diazepam (Valium) - not recommended for long-term use due to risk of dependency.
- Dantrolene (Dantrium) - helps improve mobility in addition to relieving muscle stiffness.
- Baclofen (Gablofen, Lioresal) - may be administered by pumping the medication into the spinal cord with a surgically implanted pump under the abdomen skin.
- Tizanidine (Zanaflex) - temporarily relaxes the muscle.
Drooling may also be a long-term problem. Botox can also be used to limit drooling by being injected into the salivary glands.
Specialized Educational Needs
Children with birth injuries often have learning disabilities and require special educational needs. Thankfully, the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) ensures that all children with disabilities have access to special education and early intervention to improve their learning capabilities. The following may be some educational options for a child with a birth injury, depending on the severity level.
- Public school
- Private school
- Special education centers
Social Skill Challenges
Living with a birth injury can affect a child's social interactions. Whether they need to use a wheelchair or other physical assistance devices while in school, they can make a child stand out from their peers and leave them feeling shunned or insecure. Since they may feel socially excluded, it could hinder social and communication skills. If you are concerned about your child and social interactions in school, it's essential to address this with your child's teacher or other school administrators.
Students who have motor coordination difficulties at school can often have the following accommodations to help them feel more comfortable in the classroom:
- Preferential seating near the teacher.
- Angled desk or writing surface.
- Chair or desk built to accommodate height and posture.
- Easily accessible cubbies/lockers.
When it comes to concerns about your child's accommodations, it's critical to have open communication with school personnel. Letting them know the specific needs and challenges that your child may face in school can help them prepare to ensure your child gets the accommodations they need.
Did Your Baby Suffer a Birth Injury? Bandas Law Firm, P.C. Can Help.
Learning your baby has suffered a birth injury is devastating news — especially after taking good care of yourself and following doctors' orders to ensure you have the healthiest pregnancy possible. However, when negligent doctors fail to perform the standard duty of care, a birth injury can occur. Birth injuries are preventable, and we are here to help you hold the negligent parties accountable for their actions.
At Bandas Law Firm, P.C., we understand how scary and stressful it can be when up against the challenges of caring for a baby with a birth injury. Know that you are not alone. We are here to help you gain peace of mind knowing your child's future care and medical needs are covered.
Contact us today at (505) 393-6303 to learn how we can assist you.