Reye's syndrome

Complications of Reye's syndrome

Brain damage is the main complication of Reye’s syndrome. However, spending several weeks in hospital may also affect your child both physically and psychologically.

Returning from hospital

For example, after returning home your child may:

Some hospitals offer follow-up clinics or outreach services for people who have been in intensive care. The clinics provide an opportunity to discuss the time spent in intensive care with the intensive care doctors and nurses.

If your hospital does not offer this service, you can visit your GP to discuss any problems that your child is having since their treatment in intensive care.

Brain damage

Brain damage can range from mild to severe. The level of brain damage experienced usually depends on the amount of swelling in the brain. In general, brain damage is more likely if Reye’s syndrome was severe.

Specific difficulties that are associated with brain damage and have occurred in children who have had Reye’s syndrome include:

  • poor attention span
  • poor memory
  • some loss of vision
  • some loss of hearing
  • speech and language difficulties
  • problems with motor skills, such as movement, dexterity and posture
  • problems completing tasks
  • difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • difficulty using the toilet
  • difficulty dressing

Living with a disability 

If your child has Reye’s syndrome and develops a mental disability, an individual care plan will be drawn up to address any needs or problems that they have. As your child gets older, the plan will be continually reassessed to accommodate changes to their needs and circumstances.

You and your child will also be assigned a key worker who will be the first point of contact between you and the various support services. While your child is young, the key worker is likely to be a health visitor. A health visitor is a qualified nurse with extra training who helps families with babies and young children to avoid illness.

As your child gets older and their needs become more complex, their key worker is likely to be a social worker. A social worker is someone involved in providing social services. They will be able to give you advice about a variety of practical issues, such as benefits, housing, day care and training.

Last updated: 12 July 2012

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