Brain injuries are one of the most frightening medical emergencies a person can experience. There are so many things that can affect the brain and its delicate systems, and loss of oxygen is one of the most devastating. When oxygen flow to the brain is impeded it can cause an anoxic brain injury or anoxic brain damage.
Oxygen’s Importance to the Brain
The brain requires oxygen to survive. After just a four minute interruption in the flow of oxygen, brain cells begin to die. The brain receives oxygen through the blood that flows to it, so when the blood flow is stopped because of an injury it is a medical emergency. There are several things that can interfere with the flow of blood to the brain, including strokes, heart attacks, and blood clots. All of these issues are medical emergencies and can result in brain damage in just a short period of time.
Even if blood flow is normal, anoxic brain damage can still occur if there is a low oxygen supply reaching the brain. This sometimes happens because of lung disease, or when a person is in high altitudes or inhaling air that has a high level of carbon monoxide. Anoxic brain damage can also occur because of choking, suffocation, drowning, drug use, or electric shock.
Diagnosing Anoxic Brain Damage
Anoxic brain damage can be fatal, but there are many instances in which a person remains alive, but in a coma or vegetative state. Essentially, their brain has “died” but their heart continues to pump blood and their body is alive.
There is such a thing as mild anoxic brain damage or mild hypoxia. This occurs when oxygen is temporarily and/or partially cut off from the brain, which usually leaves a person feeling confused and triggers a headache. Seizures can also be triggered by mild anoxia. Over time, if oxygen to the brain is insufficient, it can result in poor concentration, mood changes, and loss of consciousness.
It is possible to experience long-term damage because of reduced oxygen to the brain. The symptoms and effects won’t seem as severe or immediate, but the overall effects can be devastating. Medical attention is essential if oxygen deprivation is suspected. Anoxic brain damage can only be diagnosed by a doctor with CT scans, MRI scans, and EEGS that measure activity in the brain and throughout the body. SPECT scans are also useful for diagnosing anoxic brain damage by providing information on blood flow and metabolism.
Symptoms of Anoxic Brain Damage
Anoxic brain damage can cause short-term memory issues because the lack of oxygen effects the hippocampus, which controls short-term memory. People who experience anoxic brain damage often find it difficult to remember new information. Long-term, those with anoxic brain damage might find it difficult to utilize sound judgement or process new information. They could also develop issues with impulse control and might be indecisive.
Living with Anoxic Brain Damage
It’s possible to live a fulfilling life after suffering anoxic brain damage, but there are challenges. It can be difficult to process visual information and it usually takes longer to draw conclusions when given information. There might also be spatial issues and difficulty picking up items that are easily within reach. In some cases, it will be difficult for a person with anoxic brain damage to identify familiar colors and shapes.
In addition to the cognitive challenges of anoxic brain damage, there are also physical symptoms. A person might struggle to walk straight and move as if intoxicated. Common tasks as simple as drinking from a glass can be challenging because the person does not remember the movements required to do this. It’s also possible for someone with anoxic brain damage to develop quadriparesis, a condition that results in weakening of the arms and legs.
Because of the physical and cognitive challenges a person with an anoxic brain injury faces, emotional issues are also common, including depression, irritability, and loss of interest in once-beloved activities.
All too often, anoxic brain injuries are caused by the negligence of another person. Injuries can develop after surgery, following an accident, or because of environmental negligence. Our goal is to help people understand what they can do if their lives or their loved ones lives are changed forever because of an anoxic brain injury caused by negligence. You might be entitled to compensation to help with medical costs, and for lost wages and pain and suffering.