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Treating HIE

In the previous section, we talked about the Diagnosing Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy, or HIE. In this section, we will pick up with a discussion of how to treat HIE and its related conditions, including Cerebral Palsy.

This information has been compiled from government sources, medical sources, and from consulting with experts on HIE.

Keep reading to learn more about how to treat HIE.

How Is HIE Treated?

After an HIE diagnosis, parents may be at a loss for what to do next. HIE is, unfortunately, not curable. It can also have varying levels of severity, so treatment options may significantly vary.

Fortunately, there are many treatments and therapies that can improve function for children with HIE, as well as ways to manage the condition in the long term.

HIE can be treated in a wide variety of ways.

Therapeutic Hypothermia

Immediately after birth, a child with a brain injury may be placed in therapeutic hypothermia. This treatment for HIE involves cooling the baby to a lower temperature. Medical professionals will perform this brain cooling to “halt” or slow the continuation of brain cell damage that can occur after a brain injury takes place. This may reduce the symptoms of HIE, depending on the severity of the injury.

If a doctor fails to provide this therapy to a child that shows signs of a serious brain injury, they may be liable for medical malpractice.

Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cell therapy is a relatively new form of treatment involves injecting stem cells from umbilical cord blood into damaged brain tissue in order to try and regenerate that tissue. This could be used to treat brain damage in children with HIE.

As it currently stands, this kind of treatment is still in the process of undergoing clinical trials. Unfortunately, new treatments for HIE are rare. However, it is fortunate that new developments with this kind of therapy are being worked on.

It is extremely important to never to go to unregulated medical establishments to treat your child with stem cell therapy. Some families engage in “stem cell tourism,” going to other countries with less regulation to try experimental forms of treatment.

This therapy is not thoroughly tested and there are no guidelines (yet) on what the proper dosages should be. The results of doing so could be very dangerous.

Seizure Therapy

Some children with HIE may exhibit chronic seizures. Seizure therapy may be able to help treat the severity and consistency of seizures.

Some treatments for seizures include medication, nerve stimulation, and possibly surgery.

How Can HIE and Cerebral Palsy Be Managed in the Long Term?

HIE can be managed in a variety of ways. These management techniques depend on the severity of symptoms and what possible additional disabilities the person with HIE may also have.

In some cases, Cerebral Palsy may be caused by HIE. Cerebral Palsy can be managed and people with this disability could lead long and healthy lives. For HIE sufferers who also have Cerebral Palsy, symptoms can be managed in a number of ways:

  • Medication. Medicines that reduce muscle tension can help people with palsy gain some motor function and help with pain. Nerve injections such as Botox can also help reduce the tightening in particularly painful muscles which can be administered every few months.
  • Physical therapy. Training muscles and engaging in exercise, especially in children, can help with improving strength and flexibility. In most cases, the first few years after the child is born is spent helping the child with head and abdomen control.
  • Occupational therapy. This type of therapy helps children with cerebral palsy (as well as adults) help in becoming more dependent when it comes to daily needs. Occupational therapy is also used to help teach people with CP how to use adaptive equipment like wheelchairs, canes, walkers, etc.
  • Speech therapy. Pathologists can help people with palsy learn to speak or communicate with clarity.
  • Adaptive recreational activities. This is particularly helpful for children that are managing their CP symptoms.

What is the Life Expectancy of a Person With HIE?

It is difficult to properly measure the average life expectancy of a person with HIE. This is because symptoms of HIE can be extremely varied. HIE can also cause other health conditions in some cases, including cerebral palsy.

If HIE is not caught immediately after birth or during the pregnancy itself, the life expectancy for a child with severe birth injuries could be low. However, children with very severe HIE may be able to live long lives.

A big determining factor in whether or not a person with HIE will live a full life is what kind of ongoing medical care they receive for the rest of their life, and the quality of that care.


Allen, K., & Brandon, D. (2011). Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy: Pathophysiology and Experimental Treatments. Newborn And Infant Nursing Reviews, 11(3), 125-133. doi:10.1053/j.nainr.2011.07.004

UpToDate. (2019). Uptodate.com. Retrieved 18 November 2019, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/clinical-features-diagnosis-and-treatment-of-neonatal-encephalopathy

Help for Children with HIE – Brown Trial Firm. (2019). Brown Trial Firm. Retrieved 18 November 2019, from https://browntrialfirm.com/hypoxic-ischemic-encephalopathy-hie/

Vannucci, R. (1990). Current and Potentially New Management Strategies for Perinatal Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy. Pediatrics, 85(6), 961-968. Retrieved from https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/85/6/961

Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy Treatment & Management: Medical Care, Initial Resuscitation and Stabilization, Supportive Care in Patients with Hypoxic-ischemic Encephalopathy. (2019). Emedicine.medscape.com. Retrieved 18 November 2019, from https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/973501-treatment

Nair, J., & Kumar, V. (2018). Current and Emerging Therapies in the Management of Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy in Neonates. Children, 5(7), 99. doi:10.3390/children5070099

About Brown Trial Firm

Getting help for a child with HIE or Cerebral Palsy can make a big difference. Because early intervention is often key to helping improve a child’s wellbeing, it’s important to act swiftly.

At the Brown Trial Firm, our birth injury attorneys can help you investigate your case, find answers to your questions, and determine whether you are entitled to compensation. 

We offer case reviews at no cost or obligation. Many birth injuries that cause cerebral palsy could have been prevented. Don’t wait, get help today. Call us toll free at +1 (866) 223-7465 or email us a [email protected].

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