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Brain injuries caused by oxygen deprivation

Humans can do without a lot of things but oxygen isn't one of them. The only time some Greenville residents may give oxygen any special consideration is when they or someone they love is harmed for lack of it. Interference with a life-supporting oxygen supply can cause severe brain injury.

Hypoxic-anoxic injuries are the result of insufficient oxygen. The longer a person is deprived of the oxygen he or she needs, the more damage that can be done.

Brains use about 20 percent of the cell energy oxygen provides and can start to deteriorate rapidly without it. Brain functions start to break down within minutes, affecting victims in every possible way: physically, mentally and emotionally.

HAI can be triggered by internal and external events like heart rhythm problems, strokes and cardiac arrests due to disease or possible carelessness by an anesthesiologist. Anoxia or complete deprivation may be the result of a toxic substance or a lack of oxygen in the air or in the blood.

Victims typically lose consciousness and may progress to a conscious but unresponsive state, with or without extensive brain damage. Some patients with HAI have symptoms like victims of traumatic brain injuries. Cognitively, a patient is likely to suffer a loss of short-term memory and problems with words, processing information, making good decisions and reasoning.

Patients may experience multiple difficulties with movement and coordination, image processing problems, weakness of the extremities. An HAI victim may hallucinate and feel confused, depressed, irritable and unfocused. Patients also may exhibit personality and mood changes.

Recovery is not guaranteed. Permanent disability is possible and long-term treatment is likely depending upon how much of the brain is affected. HAI can be disastrous to the health of the victim and the well-being of a family. Patients and their families may seek substantial compensation when an injury of this magnitude is due to doctor negligence.

Source: Family Caregiver Alliance, "Hypoxic-Anoxic Brain Injury," accessed June 12, 2015

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