Brain Injuries in Babies and Your Right to Compensation

Brain injuries sustained during birth or within the neonatal period – the first month of life – could lead to permanent disabilities. When these injuries occur as a result of negligence, it constitutes birth injury malpractice.

How a Baby’s Brain Works

The brain is one of the most critical organs in the human body as it controls our breathing, motor skills, thoughts, emotions, vision, and other functions. It is also one of the most delicate and complex, which makes brain injuries challenging to diagnose and treat.

When a brain injury happens at birth, the child often has to deal with long-term developmental issues. Some of these include cerebral palsy (CP), sensory loss, seizures, and cognitive impairment.

The impact of a neonatal brain injury will depend on the severity of the injury, the quality and timing of the treatment, and the region of the brain that is affected.

Let us look at how each brain region works.

The human brain has three major components: cerebrum, cerebellum, and brainstem.


The front of the brain is called the cerebrum. It has two hemispheres: right and left. The right side is associated with intuition and visual processing, and the left for logic and language.

Among the vital functions of the cerebrum are:

  • Reasoning
  • Perception of sight, sound, and touch
  • Learning
  • Coordination of movement
  • Temperature control

Frontal Lobes

The frontal lobes of the cerebrum are located close to the forehead. The left frontal lobe controls the muscles on your right side and vice versa. Therefore, if the injury occurs in one of the frontal lobes, the motor function of the opposite side of the body will be affected.

In addition to motor control, cerebrum frontal lobes also play a vital role in:

  • Problem-solving
  • Memory
  • Language
  • Judgment
  • Emotional expression

Parietal Lobes

The parietal lobes of the cerebrum are located behind the frontal lobes and in front of the occipital lobes. These lobes process and interpret data such as:

  • Touch impulses (temperature, pain)
  • Spatial information (shapes, sizes, distance)
  • Written language
  • Mathematical problems

Temporal Lobes

The temporal lobes of the cerebrum are located near the ears. These lobes are responsible for:

  • Visual memory (facial recognition)
  • Verbal memory (language processing)
  • Empathy
  • Interpreting auditory information

Since the temporal lobes connect to the hypothalamus, damage to this area could result in hormonal imbalances.

Occipital Lobes

The occipital lobes of the cerebrum are found in the back of the head. With vision and reading among its main tasks, the occipital lobes are crucial in interpreting written language. Therefore, damage to these lobes could make reading comprehension difficult.


The cerebellum, located at the back of the brain, plays a crucial role in motor control. These include muscle movement, balance, and posture control.


Right in the middle of the brain is the brainstem, which helps regulate certain physiological functions such as:

  • Breathing
  • Heartbeat
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting

It is the brainstem that tells your hand to pull back whenever it touches a hot object.


Located under the midbrain is the pons – the biggest part of the brainstem. It connects the cerebrum and cerebellum to different parts of the nervous system. The pons is involved in the following tasks:

  • Interpreting facial sensory input
  • Interpreting sound from the ears
  • Regulating motor functions such as biting, chewing, and swallowing
  • Regulating sleep cycles


The midbrain is the topmost part of the brainstem, which connects the spinal cord to the rest of the brain. The midbrain is crucial in:

  • Suppressing pain
  • Maintaining alertness
  • Processing of visual and auditory signals
  • Coordinating movement

Medulla Oblongata

The medulla oblongata is at the bottom of the brainstem. Since it controls the lungs and heart, the medulla oblongata plays a crucial role in:

  • Breathing
  • Sneezing
  • Swallowing
  • Digestion

Symptoms of a Neonatal Brain Injury

One of the most common signs of brain injury is a seizure. While most seizures are visible, some are only recognizable with an EEG.

Other symptoms of a brain injury in babies include:

  • Low Apgar scores. APGAR is an acronym for appearance, pulse, grimace, activity, and respiration. These parameters are used to assess an infant right after birth and at 5-minute intervals.
  • Not breathing after delivery
  • Blood is acidic and has a low pH
  • Not sucking or swallowing
  • Abnormal limpness
  • Poor head position
  • Multiple organ failure
  • No brainstem reflexes
  • Low muscle tone

Consequences of a Neonatal Brain Injury

The severity of brain damage and the complications a child will face depends on the location of the brain injury.

Since a brain injury can evolve over the course of several days, weeks, or even months, brain scans should be performed repeatedly. It would allow doctors to analyze the progression of the injury and determine the extent of the damage.

One of the most dangerous consequences of neonatal brain injury is hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) which is caused by oxygen deprivation or limited blood flow to the brain. HIE can lead to lifelong disabilities or even infant death.

Why You Should Seek Legal Help for Neonatal Brain Injuries

The Clark Law Office has helped many children collect compensation for lifelong treatment following a neonatal brain injury. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation for families whose children have cerebral palsy, HIE and other development issues associated with a birth injury.

If you need legal help, book an appointment with our persona injury attorneys today by calling 517-347-6900.

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