Types of Encephalopathy


Baby's hand closed with stethoscope next to her.Commonly used as a general term for a brain disorder or disease, encephalopathy is a serious condition that impacts the function of the brain. The severity of the abnormality varies, and can be classified as either transient, recurrent, or permanent, possibly being reversible over time. There are various types of encephalopathy that each cause serious symptoms, with potential causes varying from trauma to the brain to genetic conditions. It is important to understand what types of encephalopathy exist and what treatment options you may have.

The following are examples of different types of encephalopathy:

  • Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy – Commonly referred to as CTE, this is one of the more noticeable types of encephalopathy. It is caused by trauma or injury to the brain, such as from multiple concussions. It has been a recent topic of conversation due to lawsuits brought against the National Football League and World Wrestling Entertainment.
  • Hypoxic Encephalopathy – This type of disorder occurs when there is not enough oxygen going to the brain. This is common in birth injuries when a baby is either experiencing umbilical cord strangulation or other complications before birth.
  • Static Encephalopathy – When the brain does not receive enough oxygen, such as when alcohol is present in the womb, it can cause permanent brain damage or dysfunction. This condition is called static encephalopathy.
  • Hypertensive Encephalopathy –Extremely high blood pressure can cause hypertensive encephalopathy, which can result in seizures, headaches, loss of consciousness, and nausea.
  • Wernicke’s Encephalopathy– More common among chronic alcoholics, this is bleeding in the lower brain (the thalamus and hypothalamus). These areas control vision and coordination. The condition is actually caused by a severe lack of Vitamin B-1, or thiamine deficiency.

Many times, encephalopathy can result from a birth injury due to the negligence of a medical professional (examples include prolonged labor or failure to monitor). One of the most common forms of encephalopathy linked to birth injuries is Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy, in which the brain and other organs do not receive enough blood and oxygen. HIE caused by asphyxia is one of the nation’s leading causes of infant fatalities and severe infant disorders.

The symptoms of HIE and their impact on brain function vary based on the severity of the injury. If a baby experienced mild HIE, they may only suffer minor issues, if any, during their life. For more severe cases, though, a baby may have serious cognitive issues, delays in motor skill and development, and/or epilepsy.

There are many potential causes of HIE, including the following:

  • Umbilical cord prolapse
  • Placental abruption
  • Severe fetal anemia
  • Cardiac disease
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Preeclampsia
  • Maternal diabetes
  • Uterine hyperstimulation

As with any type of encephalopathy, fetal monitoring is very important, as it can give an early warning of the development of potential issues. If an obstetrician does not perform proper monitoring of a baby and mother, it can be considered negligence and they may be held accountable for any resulting injury.

At Hampton & King, we recognize the dangers of encephalopathy and how serious it can be for anyone dealing with the symptoms. We also know that when this disorder is caused by negligence, the victims have specific rights that they can assert to take legal action against the negligent party. You shouldn’t have to deal with the consequences of somebody else’s mistakes. Let our Houston HIE lawyers work with you to determine the exact cause of your injury and who can be held liable. We can help you seek justice after you or your child has sustained a serious condition.

Call Hampton & King today to discuss your potential case.