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Resources and legal help for Brain & Spinal Cord Injury Survivors

Prognosis of Hypoxic Brain Injuries

When a person suffers from a severe case of cerebral hypoxia (hypoxic brain injury), the prognosis obviously means the most to the victim’s family and loved ones. While any serious medical condition can lead to nervousness, anxiety, and depression, Cerebral Hypoxia is one of those conditions that is far from black and white. The severity of the prognosis is determined by how many minutes passed when oxygen did not flow from the blood to the brain. If it was merely a matter of someone fainting and coming to moments later, the victim might suffer from some impaired balance and vomit for a short period of time, but there will not be any long term effects.

A simple way to look at the basic idea of what the prognosis will be when it comes to cerebral hypoxia is that it will have a lot to do with the cause. If the cause was something serious, such as strangulation, near-drowning, choking, etc., then more serious measures are going to be taken as far as treatment is concerned. Some common medications doctors take in these situations are barbiturates and steroids. A barbiturate will slow down the brain’s activity while the steroids will help limit brain damage (reducing inflammation and the swelling of brain tissue).

In most cases, the doctor’s primary objective will be to increase the amount of oxygen reaching the brain. The faster this takes place, the less damage the brain will incur. The ultimate goal is to save the brain from deteriorating and especially dying. In the case of a coma, duration will often determine how severe the patient’s condition will be. The longer someone is in a coma, the less likely they are to regain their normal functioning once they come out (if they come out). This is often a very difficult time for families, as they must determine what action to take. This is yet another reason why it’s so important to act fast whenever you detect symptoms that might resemble a hypoxic brain injury.

There is a middle ground when it comes to the severity of hypoxic brain injuries. A quick fainting episode is an example of the lightest form while a coma or death are the most serious, but there are also those cases where they fall somewhere in between. In these cases, the conditions will be somewhat serious, but sometimes reversible. Rehabilitation and treatment will take a significant amount of time depending on the severity.

In these scenarios, the patient will have to work with several specialists, which usually include a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, and a neurophyschologist. A physical therapist will help the patient regain motor skills. An occupational therapist will help the patient with his or her daily functions (such as using the bathroom, cooking breakfast, or other basic daily activities). A speech therapist will assist the patient in regaining proper pronunciation, as well as understanding and communication of language. A neuropsychologist will counsel the patient on emotional and behavioral issues. If the patient has the assistance of all these professionals as well as strong support from his or her family, that person is most likely to eventually make a full recovery.

If a patient is suffering from any form of seizure or muscle spasms, they might be given certain medications, such as anti-epileptic medications and Clonazepam. The anti-epileptic medications are especially important for those having seizures because people who suffer from seizures can often accidentally harm themselves. It’s a preventative measure to keep conditions from getting worse when trying to already fix a current problem.

It is important to note that brain damage to someone who has suffered from a Hypoxic Brain Injury can be a reality both before and after oxygen deprivation. Of course, there’s going to be more risk for brain damage after oxygen deprivation (so much depends on how long the person’s brain was deprived of oxygen), but it’s also possible for someone to suffer brain damage prior to oxygen deprivation. This is due to the build-up of toxins when the oxygen-carrying blood slows to the brain. It is also a reason that doctors must sometimes take fast action to help prevent brain damage.

A doctor’s primary goal when dealing with a Hypoxic Brain Injury is to restore oxygen to the brain. This can be done using various methods, which include CPR, defibrillation, atropine, and epinephrine. Which approach is used will depend on the severity of the situation. A doctor will also do his or her best to do as much damage control as possible. Correctly administered damage control can lead to less severe cases of cerebral hypoxia.

If brain damage occurs, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the patient will enter a vegetative state. Brain damage can be localized, meaning that whatever the purpose of that portion of the brain is, that is where the deficiencies will be seen in the individual. If the brain damage is on the left side, the deficiencies will often be related to speech and language. If the brain damage occurs on the right side of the brain, the deficiencies will often be related to emotion and interpretation. It can also cause at least some paralysis on the opposite side of the body.

On the bright side, mild to moderate cases of cerebral hypoxia will often lead to zero long term effects. And these will be the majority of the cases.

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