Treatment of Brain and Behaviour Problems

Brown preemie with pacifier
Except for a few specific conditions, treatment of brain injuries is really a process of trying to prevent further damage, minimize existing damage, and assess the extent of the damage, both in the short- and long-term.

The optimum care of a baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), which includes warmth, nutrition, metabolic stability, proper ventilation, and so on, is aimed at preventing further damage and minimize existing damage. Additional treatments may also be given depending on the injury or condition.

Assessment of damage to the brain is an evaluation of both the injury to the brain itself and an evaluation of the wider implications on the body and mind since brain injury can affect body movement as well as cognitive function. This total assessment is imprecise and, unless an injury is massive or tiny, the long-term effects can only be estimated. Having said that, doctors and other experts are becoming better at making what turn out to be accurate estimates based on improved diagnostic tools such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

In addition, brain injuries are usually complex in the sense that they often have more than one cause. For example, a baby who has been deprived of oxygen may also be subject to seizures. Treatment of one condition may have little impact on the other underlying condition.

More information

Hilary Whyte, MSc, MB, BCh, BAO, MRCPI, FRCPC