Epidural hematoma, also known as extradural hematoma, is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that can lead to cerebral palsy (CP). In some instances, epidural hematoma can result from a spontaneous hemorrhage. When this sort of trauma occurs, the areas of brain that helps development and motor skills are impaired.
Epidural Hematoma Causes
Epidural hematoma is caused when, after a skull fracture, a fragment from one of the skull’s bones cuts into the skull’s major blood vessels, causing the injured vessel to start bleeding. As the blood builds up, it collects and hematoma begins to form between the brain’s dura and the skull.
For infants, a stroke during pregnancy, delivery, or shortly after birth may result in epidural hematoma. Contrary to popular belief that only older people suffer from strokes, infants are at risk as well, and when it occurs, the infant’s brain, still not fully developed, is attacked. Strokes typically occur in infants when a maternal infection is present in the fluid surrounding the baby or if there is a history of maternal infertility. In addition, the American Stroke Association suggests maternal preeclampsia and early membrane ruptures may also lead to infant stroke.
Although rare, birth injuries due to medical mistakes can lead to epidural hematoma. For instance, according to the Internet Journal of Neurosurgery, an infant’s head passing through the birth canal in a breech position with little room may result in hemorrhaging that leads to epidural hematoma. In other instances, improper use of birthing tools such as forceps and a vacuum extraction tool can lead to a variety of injuries, including epidural hematoma.
Cerebral Palsy and Epidural Hematoma
If your child develops CP due to epidural hematoma, it’s usually not instantly recognizable. In fact, many physicians confuse parents with a myriad of medical terminology regarding your infant’s injuries, but a formal diagnosis of CPusually doesn’t take place until developmental milestones are not met and other signs of CP are present, that can take months, sometimes years to surface. In the meantime, the most important thing you can do is observe your child and look for typical signs and symptoms of CP, including:
- Lack of coordination and jerky, spastic movements
- Delays developmental milestones and motor skills
- Difficulty grasping and holding onto objects
- Muscle tone may vary, changing from extremely rigid to extremely floppy
- Using one side of the body more than the other
- Drooling excessively and swallowing difficulties
- Slow speech development and difficulties with speech and communication
- Walking with a wide gait, walking slowly, and general difficulties when walking
Keep in mind that not all infants exhibit the same signs and symptoms of CP, as there are several different types of the disorder.
Prognosis of Cerebral Palsy Caused by Epidural Hematoma
Children can develop several types of CP due to epidural hematoma, and the prognosis will greatly depend upon the extent of the disabilities. For example, a mild case of CP can be dealt with via physical and occupational therapy, whereas a more severe form of the disorder may require feeding tubes, medication, surgery and more. Although children with a more severe form of CP have a less than favorable prognosis when compared to those with milder forms, there is still no way to determine an exact prognosis.
If the injuries caused by epidural hematoma are treated aggressively and quickly, there is a strong chance that the prognosis will be much better. If left untreated, there is a high chance of death. However, it’s important to note that whether it’s successfully treated or not in time, epidural hematoma still places victims at high risk for brain damage, and along with CP, other medical conditions may surface, including paralysis, chronic headaches, incontinence, and physical weakness.