|Epilepsy, stroke, traumatic brain injury, developmental disabilities, and mental health disorders – these are just some of the brain-related conditions children in our community face. But thanks to community support, experts at the Alberta Children’s Hospital are leading the way in better understanding and treating a wide range of illnesses and injuries of the brain.
Sickness can be worrisome for families, but when it affects a child’s brain, it can be especially devastating. The brain is central to a child’s development, intelligence, personality and life-long potential. And since illness and injury of the brain during development -- its most vulnerable stage -- can have serious life-long effects, the Alberta Children’s Hospital has made Brain Health a priority.
Every year, thousands of children need the Alberta Children’s Hospital for very specialized care to treat their brain-related illnesses and injuries, whether they are a result of trauma or changes to the brain caused by disease, disorder or premature birth. Some of these conditions include:
Acquired Brain Injury - including stroke, brain
tumours, infections like meningitis and encephalitis, hydrocephalus, and
problems resulting from near drowning and carbon monoxide poisoning
Traumatic Brain Injury - each year, up to 1,500 kids come
to our hospital’s emergency department with a traumatic brain injury, such as
concussion. One in five kids will suffer a mild traumatic brain injury before
Results of Premature Birth - susceptibility to brain injury
due to bleeding and a poor oxygen supply in the brain, sometimes resulting in
Cerebral Palsy and learning disorders.
Genetic and Chemical Disorders - disorders of the brain
resulting from a genetic or chemical abnormality
Developmental Disabilities - learning disorders,
autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, cerebral
palsy and developmental delays where the causes are mostly unknown
Mental Health concerns - depression, anxiety,
disruptive behavior,post-traumatic stress disorder, aggression, bipolar
For children whose brains
are still developing and forming essential networks that affect physical,
cognitive and emotional function, the implications can be life-long. The
quicker they can be diagnosed and treated, the greater the benefit on their
long-term quality of life.
Thankfully, the Alberta Children’s Hospital
is the only free-standing pediatric facility in Canada to provide a full
spectrum of brain health services under one roof including Neurology, Neurosurgery, Psychiatry, Neuro-rehabilitation, Neuropsychology, NeuroCritical Care and Neurodevelopmental expertise. Thanks to generous community support, our
hospital has acquired resources and recruited experts who are providing
national and international leadership in the areas of Stroke, Minimally-invasive brain surgery, Behavioural Research and Epilepsy.
Thanks to you, the Alberta Children's Hospital is home to:
Cranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) — Canada’s first pediatric brain stimulation lab. Using non-invasive transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), our experts
map connections within the brain to better understand conditions like childhood
stroke and depression. Their hope is to further utilize this technology to help
the brain rewire and repair itself. Experts at the hospital are national
leaders in using TMS to help kids with stroke.
3T MRI—Western Canada’s first 3-Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging (3T MRI) scanner within a children’s
hospital, a state-of-the-art
radiation-free technology that holds twice the power of the conventional MRI.
The 3T MRI is helping revolutionize the field of imaging by enabling our
specialists to see not only how a child’s brain is structured, but also exactly
how it is functioning.
Next Generation DNA Sequencing technology that
is providing faster answers to genetic and diagnostic questions that used to
take years to solve. The Alberta Children’s Hospital is the first in Canada to
use a DNA test and next-generation technology to screen for every known genetic
disorder – 4,800 DNA tests – all at once!
Stereotactic Assistant (ROSA) —a high tech piece
of equipment used to perform brain surgery on children. Using ROSA, specialists
have a less invasive way to map children’s brains and pinpoint specific areas
to target during surgery. Since the arrival of the ROSA in 2014, neurosurgeons
at the Alberta Children’s Hospital have more than doubled the number of
operations they perform annually to help kids with epilepsy.
NeuroCritical Care Program — A first of its kind program in Canada, NeuroCritical Care has begun delivering immediate and personalized care to children whose brains are at risk due to critical conditions such as traumatic brain injury, brain tumours, preterm birth, stroke, epilepsy and spinal cord disorders. The program unites experts within neurology, neo-natal intensive care and pediatric intensive care whose focus is on preserving brain function by intervening early, continuously, and by augmenting the child’s own recovery process so he/she can have the best outcome possible.
For decades, the best insights into the complexity of a child’s developing
brain were learned either through surgery or autopsy. Today, thanks to generous
donations, the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute has a growing
team of specialists who now have new, less invasive ways of expanding pediatric
Brain Health knowledge.
Brain Injury Research
Generous donors have helped the Alberta Children’s Hospital's Pediatric Brain Injury Program become one of the best in Canada. Key areas of focus for the Pediatric Brain Injury Research Program currently are Concussion and Stroke.
Brain Imaging Research
Our researchers are using 3T MRI imaging to look at the working brains of children who have behavioural or developmental disorders, like Autism or ADHD. Researchers are finding structural and functional differences in the brains of these kids.
Researchers are using zebrafish, which are 70% genetically similar to humans, to study and test potential new medications to treat seizures. Already, six potential new therapies are being validated before heading into clinical trials for kids.
Researchers are studying TMS potential treatment for cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury/concussion, depression, Tourette Syndrome, and pediatric pain.