Since every birth injury is unique, it is difficult to determine the exact treatment that will work for each infant. Proper diagnosis is extremely important. In addition, some parents may opt to have their child go through more traditional treatments while others may prefer holistic, natural methods of healing.
The key to successful birth injury treatment is finding the treatment methods that work for your child and his or her injuries and overall health. Below, we discuss some of the common treatments used to help infants and children who have experienced a birth injury.
Assistive technology is increasingly used to help children who suffer from all sorts of medical conditions and disabilities. These technologies include specialized learning materials, software, devices, braces, wheelchairs, and more. Assistive technologies that are often helpful for children with birth injuries include technologies that aid:
- Physical Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
- Speech-Language Services
These technologies are effective in helping manage symptoms associated with birth injuries. (See “Infant Brain Damage”, “Cerebral Palsy”, “Klumpke’s Palsy”, “Infant Hearing Loss” and “Neonatal Stroke”).
Craniosacral therapy for babies (CST) is a type of treatment used for infants who suffer head trauma. CST involves massaging the bones around the skull, which can minimize pain and promote growth and healing. The massage helps to relieve tension and pressure, reduces blockages and helps normalize the body. Most often, CST is used to treat infants who have suffered birth injuries, such as:
- Infant Brain Damage
- Cerebral Palsy
- Birth Trauma
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a treatment option that involves a pressurized chamber that is filled with 100% oxygen. The patient is placed in the chamber for a period of time – usually 90-120 minutes. HBOT helps treat or even heal existing injuries in the tissues of the brain or body by decreasing pressure and increasing oxygen flow. It can also help prevent additional injuries from developing.
HBOT is useful in treating infants and children who have experienced a birth injury, such as:
- Infant Brain Damage
- Oxygen Deprivation
- Cerebral Palsy
- Birth Trauma
- Bleeding in the Brain
- Infant Stroke
Occupational therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on sensory-processing, cognitive skills and fine motor skills. Occupational therapy may help children develop their emotional and social skills, hand-eye coordination, daily hygiene and tasks and positive behaviors. It is often used in conjunction with physical therapy to offer the infant or child comprehensive therapies that address all areas of concern. Occupational therapy is helpful for infants and children who are suffering from:
Physical therapy is one of the most common and effective types of therapy for infants and children with birth injuries. The goals of physical therapy are individualized for each patient. Generally, however, the goals include developing or improving muscle function, managing pain, promoting correct posture and movement patterns, developing age-appropriate skills and overcoming limitations. Physical therapy helps treat symptoms related to birth injuries, including:
Medications are a common treatment option for birth injuries. Many medications can control symptoms and help improve overall quality of life. The medications that are prescribed for infants and children depend on the birth injury and overall treatment goals. Some of the more commonly prescribed medications include:
- Anticholinergics – Controls tremors, muscle spasms and stiffness.
- Anticonvulsants – Suppresses brain stimulation to treat seizures and mood disorders.
- Antispasmodics – Reduces spasticity, stiffness and tremors.
- Corticosteroids – Generally administered during pregnancy to help develop the infant’s organs and tissue.
- Antivirals – Treats herpes simplex virus (HSV).
- Bisphosphonates – Treats fragile or fractured bones and bone loss.
- Topicals – Medications used to treat skin disorders. May include dressings, creams, salves, lotions or oils.
- Pain Medication – Prescription or over-the-counter pain relievers.
- Antidepressants – Controls anxiety and depression.
Therapeutic neonatal hypothermia, also called cooling therapy, is a treatment option for infants who have suffered from oxygen deprivation at birth. During hypothermia treatment, the infant’s body temperature is lowered, which causes the brain to slow down. As a result, disease progression slows down and the brain has a chance to heal. Hypothermia treatment can also prevent additional brain damage.
Neonatal therapeutic hypothermia is often used to help infants who have suffered from birth injuries, including:
- Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)
- Infant brain Damage
- Meconium Aspiration Syndrome
- Placental Insufficiency
- Umbilical Cord Problems
- Preterm Labor or Birth
Speech pathology is a type of therapy that helps infants and children learn how to feed and communicate appropriately. Speech therapy is helpful for infants who experience feeding problems as early as birth. It is also helpful for children who have disabilities that affect their ability to communicate properly, such as autism. Speech therapy is often used alongside other therapies to help children suffering from:
Surgery is sometimes necessary to treat a birth injury. The type of surgery will, of course, depend on the injury and other factors. Sometimes, surgery is used in conjunction with other treatment methods, and other times, it is the only treatment option. While it can be scary for parents, most surgeries for birth injuries are successful. There are many types of surgery that may be applicable to infants and children suffering a birth injury. These include:
- Orthopedic Surgery
- Hearing Surgery
- Vision Surgery
- Surgery for Pain Relief
- Evacuation of a Hematoma
- Neurotization/Nerve Transfer
- Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy
The types of birth injuries that may benefit from surgical intervention are discussed in more detail in separate articles. (See “Infant Brain Damage”, “Cerebral Palsy”, “Erb’s Palsy”, “Klumpke’s Palsy”, “Brachial Plexus Injury” and “Infant Spinal Cord Damage”).