Brain Cooling

Therapeutic Hypothermia After Brain Injury

Brain injuries in premature infants and newborns are commonly caused by a lack of oxygen during or after birth (a condition called Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy). An innovative therapy called "brain cooling" (known as Therapeutic Hypothermia) significantly reduces the temperature of the infant’s brain, which prevents further damage and allows the brain to heal and recover.

The Colorado Institute for Maternal & Fetal Health is one of the top facilities in the nation offering brain cooling therapy for infants who sustain brain injuries. Numerous studies have shown that such therapy reduces the incidence of cerebral palsy, epilepsy or behavioral disorders such as ADHD.

Brain Cooling at Children’s Hospital Colorado

The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Children’s Hospital Colorado is one of the most experienced centers in the nation to provide brain cooling therapies. Children’s Hospital Colorado NICU has actively participated in clinical trials from the advent of brain cooling research. Since implementing the therapy in 2006, Children’s Hospital Colorado has provided brain cooling therapy to more than 300 infants with brain injuries. Our NICU is one of the leading centers nationally in the treatment of neonatal encephalopathy (disorders of the brain), and we are committed to ongoing research to continue to improve the treatment of brain injuries in newborns.

Our brain cooling team assigned to each premature or ill newborn with suspected brain injuries includes:
•    Board-certified neonatologists
•    Registered nurses with specialized training in brain cooling
•    Pediatric neurologists specializing in brain injury and seizure treatment
•    Pediatric Stroke Team
•    Pediatric neuro-radiologists trained in interpretation of complex brain imaging studies
•    Developmental specialists
•    NICU-specific physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists
•    Neonatal social workers and chaplains

Specialized brain cooling therapy at the NICU at Children’s Hospital Colorado includes:
•    CoolCap, which lowers the temperature of the brain for three days to promote healing and prevent further injury
•    Option for whole body cooling or cooling through the extra corporeal membrane oxygenation circuit
•    Continuous brain activity monitoring using amplified electroencephalogram (EEG), a device that records electrical activity in the brain, during cooling
•    Treatment of multi-system organ failure, using the most sophisticated technology in neonatal care
•    Continuous brain wave studies using video-monitored EEG equipment, with attending pediatric neurologist interpretation available 24 hours a day

Beyond our NICU, our brain cooling team works closely with our community partners to provide education about brain injury treatment. We have developed treatment protocols used by the Flight for Life® Newborn Critical Care Team, ensuring that your baby’s treatment begins even before arriving in the NICU at Children’s Hospital Colorado. In addition, our brain cooling team has helped several hospitals implement their own brain cooling programs and serves as consultants to biotech companies developing advanced brain cooling and monitoring technology.

Because neonatal brain injury increases the risk of developmental problems even after infants go home with their parents, we provide a full range of support services to continue caring for your baby. The care includes follow-up appointments with the Pediatric Neurology team at the Special Care Clinic, and with physical and occupational therapists if needed. In addition, our team conducts developmental assessments on all infants who have had brain cooling when they reach 2 years of age.