Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy | What Is It?
Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, or HIE, is a brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation to the brain, also known as intrapartum asphyxia. A newborn’s body can compensate for brief periods of depleted oxygen, but if the asphyxia lasts too long, brain tissue will be destroyed. Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy due to fetal or neonatal asphyxia is a leading cause of death or severe impairment among infants.
Such impairment can include epilepsy, developmental delay, motor impairment, neurodevelopmental delay, and cognitive impairment. Usually, the severity of impairment cannot be determined until a child is three to four years old.
Asphyxia was long thought to be the cause of Cerebral Palsy, but two studies have shown that only 9% of cases are a direct result of asphyxia. In the remaining 91% of cases, factors such as premature birth, complications of birth or problems immediately following birth cause Cerebral Palsy. In some cases, cause cannot be definitively determined.
How Can Pediatric Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy Help?
Treatment for hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy focuses on helping the child adapt to symptoms that result from the brain injury. Pediatric Physical therapies and occupational therapies are commonly utilized to treat Cerebral Palsy caused by hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy.