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What Is an Anoxic Brain Injury?

Posted on: February 16th, 2013 by Romanucci & Blandin

If the human brain came with an owner’s manual, page one would feature a warning that goes something like this: “The human brain needs 3.3 ml of oxygen per 100 g of brain tissue every minute to function properly. If the oxygen supply is interrupted or cut off completely, an anoxic brain injury may occur.” Oxygen is extremely important to the brain, and that’s the biggest understatement you’ll likely read today.

The attorneys at Romanucci & Blandin, a Chicago personal injury law firm, deal with injuries every day. They’re especially knowledgeable about the brain, because brain injuries are so incredibly common. In this blog, we’ll shed some light on the subject so that you’re better able to protect yourself or to seek justice if you or someone you love is a victim. There won’t be a quiz on this lesson, but you may want to take some notes.

What Are the Symptoms of An Anoxic Brain Injury?

When the brain’s oxygen supply is interrupted, the risk of severe injury increases with every minute that passes. Brain cells die, causing irreparable damage and in extreme cases even death. Because the symptoms of anoxic brain injury are so varied, the cause is often misdiagnosed, and some symptoms are so common in the general population that some physicians overlook them entirely.

Unfortunately, if left untreated these symptoms may get worse, and additional symptoms may emerge. An anoxic brain injury can result in one or more of the following:

  • Confusion
  • Problems concentrating
  • Reduced attention span
  • Erratic mood swings
  • A marked change in personality
  • Blackouts or loss of consciousness
  • Uncontrollable muscle movement
  • Seizures
  • Symptoms that mimic Parkinson’s disease

What Causes Anoxic Brain Injury?

There are many possible ways for the brain to be deprived of oxygen for seconds, minutes or longer. These causes can be both external (for example, a victim may breathe in smoke from a fire and suffer carbon monoxide poisoning) and internal (a patient with heart disease may be deprived of oxygen during a heart attack). Some of the possible causes of an anoxic brain injury include:

  • Heart attacks or irregular heartbeat
  • Blocked airways
  • Sports injuries
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Adverse reactions to drugs or anesthesia
  • Lung injuries
  • Near-drowning
  • Electric shock
  • Faulty oxygen machines
  • Brain tumors
  • Stroke

Doctors administer tests to diagnose anoxic brain injury, even if the exact cause of the symptoms is unclear. CT, MRI and EEG scans are the most common tests used to analyze traumatic brain injuries, and many forms of treatment are available. These therapies, such as medication or hyperbaric oxygen treatment, may be administered to stabilize the patient and prevent further damage. Depending on the severity of the injury, rehabilitative treatments can sometimes help. Physical therapy, speech therapy and neurological, behavioral and emotional therapies can help victims partially recover lost functionality.

Sadly, some patients may never be able to replace the brain cells they’ve lost as a result of their injury. Brain cells that are lost can’t be healed – they die and must be replaced by new cells. In some cases the body lacks the resources or the ability to replace these cells. In those cases, victims face permanent and irreversible damage.

The attorneys at Romanucci & Blandin know how devastating these situations can be, but they also know that there is hope. If you live in the greater Chicago area and you or someone you love is the victim of an anoxic brain injury, our attorneys can help. You may have legal recourse to collect restitution and to help prevent what happened to you from happening to someone else. To begin building your case, contact the attorneys at R&B Law or chat live with one of our experts today.

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