Few Illinois birth injuries are as challenging as those involving the brain. Cognitive function, social adeptness, motor skills, attention problems, and many other issues arise when a child experiences a brain injury at birth. Experts have long-known that premature infants are at an increased risk of experiencing these problems. Neonatal brain injuries among premature infants are shockingly high. Some researchers suggest that upwards of fifty percent of premature infants have some form of brain problems-often mild-as a result of their early birth. A smaller, but still substantial minority of preterm infants have very severe cognitive and motor skill problems. This group represents about five percent of premature infants and includes those with more severe deficiencies like cerebral palsy.
Unfortunately, our Chicago cerebral palsy lawyers know that medical researchers have yet to pinpoint any ways that the damage caused by these brain problems can be undone. There has been much new knowledge discovered about ways to help victims reach their potential and cope with their particular vulnerabilities. However, that is different than reversing any damage that has already been done. As it now stands the problem is irreversible, which is one of the reasons that birth injury lawsuits are filed-to ensure those affected have resources to deal with the lifelong consequences of the harm.
However, new research suggests that steps are slowly being made that might one day offer real positive ways to help victims actually reverse brain damage caused by problems at birth. The effort, discussed last week in Medical Xpress News was presented at the latest Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine’s annual meeting.
The research used young rats with brain injuries that mimicked neonatal brain damage in preterm delivery. Doctors involved in the effort explained that stem cells were taken and transplanted into the rats brains. The result was that the brains were able to be successfully implanted and integrated into the animal organ. The cells also seemed to help create neurologic improvement-actually reversal of some brain damage.
Much more work needs to be done to further hone in on the best ways to use these power of the stem cell to achieve brain growth. However, this first step is an important one which counsels toward the overall long-term efficacy of this line of research. One researcher explained, “stem cells are a promising source for transplant after a brain injury because they have the ability to divide throughout life and grow into any one of the body’s more than 200 cells, which can contribute to the ability to renew and repair tissues.”
In other words, when more information is known, the cells may one day be able to be inserted into an injured brain and spur healing. This is obviously an incredibly powerful tool that could fundamentally change the way that we look at these injuries. The ability to heal damage, instead of just control it, is an encouraging sign that must be explored as much as possible. We will be sure to follow along as these efforts continue.
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