Anoxic brain injury claims occur when your brain is starved of oxygen. Your brain uses about 20% of the total amount of oxygen your body consumes. Oxygen is used to metabolize glucose to provide energy. Your brain uses 90% of its energy to maintain your neuron's ability to send electromagnetic impulses. Hypoxic-anoxic injuries (HAI) occur when there is a partial (hypoxic) or complete (anoxic) lack of oxygen supply to the brain.
The reduced oxygen to the brain can result in the impairment of the ability to think and move physically and can also affect the victim’s emotional responses. Recovery from brain injury tends to be slow and rarely complete, so the impact on the victim’s family, including the financial repercussions, can be devastating.
If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury due to the negligence of someone else, you should consider retaining an experienced lawyer to help you pursue your claim. Because brain injury lawsuits are complex, it is essential that your lawyer have extensive experience representing brain injury victims.
There are three general conditions that cause HAI. The causes themselves are varied. The conditions and some of their causes follow:
perAnoxic anoxia – also known as high-altitude sickness. Basically, there is not enough oxygen in the air for the body to absorb and use. Anoxic anoxia is not very common.
Anemic anoxia – not enough hemoglobin, a chemical in red blood cells that carries oxygen through your body. One cause of this is acute hemorrhage, or bleeding, which often occurs with gunshot wounds. Another cause is carbon monoxide poisoning, which is seen in suicide attempts from automobile exhaust. Carbon monoxide poisoning can also occur due to a malfunctioning furnace or in industrial accidents. Another cause is chronic anemia, or persistently low hemoglobin or red blood cells.
Stagnant or ischemic anoxia, also known as hypoxic-ischemic injury (HII) – not enough blood flow to the brain. This can be caused by ischemic strokes or cardiac arrhythmias or arrest. HII is the most common type of anoxic brain injury.
Following is a summary of symptoms of HII:
Cognitive symptoms, from most to least common
Short-term memory loss – the hippocampus, one of the more important parts of the brain for learning new information, is composed of neurons that are highly sensitive to trauma and changes in chemistry.
Executive functioning – includes reasoning, judgment, preservation, initiation and impulsivity.
Anomia – or difficulty in finding words.
Visual disturbances – difficulty in processing incoming visual information.
Common physical symptoms
- Ataxia – lack of coordination similar to that seen in alcohol impaired individuals.
- Apraxia – inability to follow a series of commands.
- Rigidity, spasticity or myoclonus – all involve abnormal movements.
- Paresis – weakness.
- Quadriparesis – weakness of all four extremities.
Depending on the cause, initial treatment for HAI involves establishing an adequate airway, saturating the blood with oxygen, or supporting the cardiovascular system as well as preventing or treating the onset of pneumonia. Longer-term treatment is limited, but after the person becomes medically stable, rehabilitation methods depend on the stage of injury/recovery the patient finds him or herself in, whether in a coma, in consciousness, or a permanent vegetative state. Treatment may range from hyperbaric oxygen therapy to the use of barbiturates to slow down the brain’s activity. The best results, however, seem to involve specialized centers where the patient is taken care of around the clock.
Please search our directory for an experienced brain injury lawyer who can explain your legal rights if you or a loved one has suffered an anoxic brain injury.