Oxygen interruption to the brain
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can occur when the brain is starved of oxygen. If the oxygen supply is interrupted, even for a very short time, brain function can be permanently affected.
What is hypoxic brain injury?
When the oxygen supply is disrupted, the brain's chemical processes change; the casualty could lose consciousness after 15 seconds and brain damage starts to occur after approximately four minutes.
Brain injuries occurring following a partial disruption of oxygen are known as hypoxic brain injury (cerebral hypoxia), while total loss of oxygen causes anoxic brain injury (cerebral anoxia); however brain injuries caused by lack of oxygen are typically referred to as hypoxic.
How do hypoxic brain injuries occur?
Oxygen supply to the brain may be interrupted for a number of health-related reasons such as during a heart attack, respiratory arrest, severe asthma attack, or as a result of very low blood pressure. They can also occur as a result of:
- severe allergic reaction (anaphylactic shock)
- complications during surgery or childbirth
- near drowning
- smoke inhalation
- exposure to high altitudes
- carbon monoxide inhalation
- electric shock
Hypoxic injuries can occur in car accidents, work accidents, medical negligence incidents and if a duty holder does not uphold a reasonable level of care; for example a landlord who fails to maintain or repair a boiler.
How are hypoxic brain injuries treated?
In the early stages of treatment it may be difficult for clinicians to establish the type of brain injury which has occurred, especially if the full circumstances of the accident or incident are unclear. However, in cases where the patient is unconscious (comatose), admission to an intensive care unit and ventilator-assisted breathing may be necessary.
The team may use medication to help bring the patient's heartbeat and blood pressure to a stable level. It is common for hypoxic brain injury victims to suffer seizures (fits).
To establish the extent of the injuries, clinicians use a number of brain imaging methods which can help them anticipate the level of neurological disability the patient will suffer. Plus, EEG (electroencephalogram) tests can reveal the level of electrical function of the brain.
The outcomes following hypoxic brain injury will vary depending on the extent of the brain damage suffered, the length of coma period, and other factors such as the patient's age and general health.
Effects and outcomes
Effects of hypoxic brain injury will range from mild (when the interruption of oxygen supply has been brief) to severe (for longer periods of oxygen disruption).
The effects can range through the following:
Mild hypoxic brain injury
- problems with concentration, attention, and short-term memory
- headache, lightheadedness, and dizzy spells
- increased breathing rate, and sweating
- Restriction in field of vision
- numbness, tingling, and feelings of euphoria
More pronounced hypoxic brain injury
- confusion, agitation or drowsiness
- cyanosis (a bluish tinge to the skin, typically around the lips, mouth and fingertips
- brief limb jerking or seizure
- a period of unconsciousness
Severe hypoxia is, sadly, often fatal.
The long-term outcomes for hypoxia patients will vary on a case-by-case basis and will be determined by factors such as whether any other type of damage to the brain occurred, such as diffuse axonal injury or haemorrhaging (bleeding).
Mild hypoxia may only cause the patient to suffer very mild symptoms and they may well have a full or near-full recovery.
If the injury is more severe, there are likely to be long-term, life-altering outcomes, the nature of which will largely be determined by the area of the brain which has been damaged.
Make a claim for compensation following a hypoxic brain injury
When you make a brain injury claim with the assistance of Thompsons Solicitors in Scotland, we will strive to ensure your specific needs are considered fully and that every component is recognised as part of your claim.
Although this type of brain injury claim can be complex, especially in deciding the full extent of the long-term outcomes for you or your loved one, and the family involved, we aim not only to secure the fullest amount of compensation possible, but in the shortest time possible.
We make it our remit to support and maintain you and your family through the claiming process and will seek the means that will help you rebuild your life as fully as possible.
To find out more about our service, call us today on 0800 0891 331 and we will be happy to discuss your circumstances. Plus, there is no obligation to proceed and, if you decide you would like to make a claim with Thompsons, we may be able to conduct your claim on a full No Win No Fee basis.