As Meningitis Now’s #MayMayhem dedicated fund raising month here at Boyes Turner comes to an end and we finish off the abundance of cakes and sweet treats on sale, and the sound of party poppers slowly fades from the kitchen, it’s worth mentioning that meningitis survivors often experience sensory impairments from the damage that has been done to their brain by this virulent disease.
What sensory damage could my child suffer after brain injury from meningitis?
Meningitis Now provides helpful information for parents about how meningitis-related brain injury might affect their child:
The most common sensory after-effect of meningitis is loss of hearing caused by damage to the inner ear. In fact, 8% of all meningitis sufferers experience some permanent loss of hearing (sensori-neural hearing loss). Children should be offered a hearing test within four weeks of recovery from bacterial meningitis or meningococcal septicaemia as early management is essential to reduce the impact on the child’s language development.
Damage to the inner ear can also cause tinnitus and problems with balance and coordination. 10% of survivors of childhood meningitis will have ongoing difficulties with balance. Balance difficulties can occur even when the child’s hearing has not been affected. This might cause problems with delayed sitting or walking in early childhood, riding a bicycle, balancing in the dark or on uneven surfaces, or in situations such as running around a busy playground. The sufferer may have dizziness, unsteadiness or vertigo.
Following brain injury both vision and the ability to understand what is seen (visual perception) can be impaired. Visual fields (the extent of what is seen without moving the eyes or head), visual acuity (seeing at different distances) and visual perception can all be affected, as can the ability to track and change focus, coordinate information from both eyes, or fix on a series of stationary objects quickly – an essential skill for reading. The child might experience double vision.
The child might not be aware of the extent of their visual problems or might try to ignore them, so it is important that parents report any concerns about their child’s vision following meningitis or brain injury to their doctor and ask for a specialist referral.
Taste, smell and touch
After damage to the brain, children may experience problems with taste and smell affecting their eating habits and exposing them to increased safety risks. They may lose the ability to identify objects by touch. Altered responses to temperature or pain exposes the child to additional risks of harm.
Where a client has sensory after-effects from meningitis-related brain injury caused by negligence, Boyes Turner’s brain injury and SEN specialists work with a range of experts, including audiologists, ophthalmologists, neurologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and psychologists to assess the child’s disability, facilitate rehabilitation and ensure that the child receives proper treatment, support and compensation for their injury.
If you or someone you care for are disabled as a result of negligent medical treatment for meningitis please contact our specialist team by email email@example.com.