Olympic Cool-Cap system
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The Olympic Cool-Cap system is a helmet designed to provide hypothermia therapy for neonatal encephalopathy caused by hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), preventing cerebral palsy in babies born with little or no oxygen.
The device works by a steady flow of water at a selected temperature through a cap covering the infant's head to cool the brain within the first six hours of life. By cooling the brain, cell metabolism is slowed which prevents toxins from injured cells from spreading to other parts of the brain.
Investigations into neonatal hypoxic-ischemic cerebral injury in the period from 2000 to 2006 made it clear that for a group of high risk babies a slight temperature reduction could provide a significant reduction in brain injury. By 2007 reviewers found that cooling was a safe and effective intervention. Some doubt remained as to whether it was warranted in cases of asphyxiation, but by 2009 reviewers found that it reduced the occurrence of severe neurological problems.
The device was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration in late 2006 and hailed as "bring[ing] new hope to parents of the approximately 5,000 to 9,000 babies each year who are born in the United States with moderate to severe hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy".
It is also used in the United Kingdom, where it treats 1,000 babies per year.
Cooling is currently the only tool doctors can use to prevent neurological disorders caused by hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy.
Although doubt remains about the effectiveness of the Cool-Cap system on patients undergoing chemotherapy using Epirubicin and Docetaxel, studies suggest there is statistically significant, but marginal, decrease in hair loss in study participants.
In tests, minor cardiac arrhythmias occurred slightly more often in cooled infants, however the effect was not unexpected because mild sinus bradycardia is known to be associated with hypothermia. In tests, all cases were resolved with appropriate therapy. The Cool-Cap system also increased the incidence of scalp edema; however, all cases were resolved prior to or after completion of treatment.
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