The body is a complex machine, and perhaps no part of the body is more complex than the central nervous system – specifically the brain. The brain controls every aspect of our body, and it is composed of blood vessels, fat, and nerves. It is critical that this complex organ is well taken care of, and that it receives all the nutrients and components that it needs to function correctly.
Some injuries or medical conditions can hamper the function of the brain, especially when oxygen is restricted or cut off completely from getting to it. Hypoxic and anoxic brain injuries occur when the brain does not get enough oxygen, and this can lead to severe complications and even death. Let’s discuss exactly how someone can sustain an anoxic brain injury, and ways to try and avoid this dangerous condition.
But first, a quick lesson in the brain.
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How does the brain work?
Composed of several lobes that house different parts of the brain, the brain is not only responsible for all your thoughts and feelings, but also for controlling things such as your breathing, heart rate, body temperature, sight, and so on. Every time you take a step, it starts in the brain (the cerebellum to be specific), sending messages to the body to move individual muscles. It goes without saying that this organ is extremely important and very complex.
For the brain to function properly, it needs a constant supply of oxygenated blood. There are two main sets of blood vessels that supply the brain with blood and oxygen: vertebral arteries and the carotid arteries. These arteries and veins supply the entire brain with the blood and oxygen it needs to function appropriately, an intricate system that runs throughout the entire brain.
If one of these arteries or vessels are blocked or hampered in some manner, it can prove to be extremely dangerous and injurious to you, affecting not only your brain but your entire body. If the brain goes too long without oxygen (delivered by the blood in the arteries), your body will begin to shut down.
When the brain receives some but not enough oxygen, this is known as a hypoxic brain injury. When the brain receives no oxygen, this is called an anoxic brain injury.
Causes of anoxic brain injuries
There are many ways that the brain can be deprived of oxygen. Some of these conditions and situations include:
- Head injury. Head injuries can happen during car accidents, slip and fall accidents, work accidents, sports injuries, and so forth. These injuries are often known as traumatic brain injuries, and not only can they cause other sorts of injuries in the brain such as swelling and bruising, another consequence of a head injury is a brain bleed (or Intracranial Hemorrhage). During a brain bleed, the brain cannot store oxygenated blood, and cells in the brain begin to die, damaging nerve cells as well.
- Asphyxia. If you can no longer breathe whether your trachea (the tube that conveys oxygen to your lungs) is being constricted or cut off (or there simply isn’t enough air for you to breathe), your body can no longer receive the oxygen it needs in order keep your brain and many other organs functioning. Children are particularly at risk of this condition, as small toys, pools, and even mistakes made during labor can also cause oxygen deprivation. Instances where this might happen include:
- near drowning
- inhaling fumes such as smoke and carbon monoxide
- severe asthma attacks
- Drug overdose. According to the National Association of State Head Injury Administrators (NASHIA), “overdose is [an] injury to the body (poisoning) that happens when a drug is taken in excessive amounts and can be fatal. Opioid overdose induces respiratory depression that can lead to anoxic or hypoxic brain injury.”
- Cardiac arrest. When your heart suddenly stops pumping blood, this is known as a cardiac arrest. When the heart stops beating and pumping blood this means that the rest of your body is no longer receiving oxygenated blood; therefore, your brain isn’t either. If your brain stops functioning, your body will begin to fail including all your necessary organs that also require oxygenated blood.
- Stroke. When blood supply to the brain is interrupted or stopped completely, it causes a stroke. The brain cannot receive the blood supply it needs to continue functioning, and a victim can die within moments if not treated immediately.
There are an almost limitless number of ways in which the blood supply (and therefore oxygen supply) to your brain can be interrupted. Anoxic brain injuries are serious injuries and should be seen to by a medical professional as quickly as possible. These injuries can be fatal, and need to be taken seriously, no matter how severe you think the injury you sustained is.
What are the symptoms of an anoxic brain injury?
According to the Shepherd Center, the symptoms of an anoxic brain injury include an initial loss of consciousness, which depending on how long this unconsciousness lasts, can leave the person possibly in a vegetative state or even a coma. Other effects or symptoms of an anoxic brain injury include:
- difficulty coordinating balance
- vision problems
- changes in sensory perception
- trouble speaking and swallowing
- changes in sleep pattern
- lack of bowel and bladder control
- changes in sexual function
- motor impairment
- personality changes
- difficulty forming sentences
- trouble communicating
- difficulty with reason, focus and logic
- memory impairments
- poor concentration
- mood swings
- limited attention span
- acting inappropriately
While anoxic brain injuries need not end up with you in a vegetative state, the long-lasting effects of the injury can interfere with your day-to-day activities, and may require further medical and ongoing treatment.
How can a Nashville brain injury lawyer help me?
If you suffered a head injury in a car accident, from a fall on unsafe property, in an act of violence against you, or in any way as a result of someone else’s negligence, you can and should consider a personal injury lawsuit. Any situation where someone caused your injury means that they should be liable to compensate you for not only the pain and suffering you must endure, but also for any income loss and financial loss due to hospital treatments or work lost.
Breaking your arm or tearing a ligament can be painful, and may take a while to heal, but these injuries are not often life-threatening. Sustaining an anoxic brain injury is always a serious condition that should be seen to by a medical professional immediately. It is imperative that your brain receives a constant supply of oxygenated blood so that the rest of your body and organs can continue to function properly.
If you or a loved one suffered an anoxic brain injury caused by someone’s negligence, then it’s time for you to schedule a consultation with Rocky McElhaney Law Firm by calling 615-425-2500, or filling out our contact form. We are dedicated to ensuring that you are compensated for your pain and suffering, as well as any lost income that you may see from being too injured to continue work. We do not want you to suffer more than you already must. We proudly serve our community through our offices in Nashville, Hendersonville, or Clarksville.