Airway obstruction can cause acquired brain injury by stopping breathing and preventing oxygen from getting to the brain. Without oxygen, neural cells begin to die. This causes brain damage in affected areas. An airway obstruction acquired brain injury (ABI) can lead to either focal or diffuse brain damage.
Common Causes of Airway Obstruction
Airway obstruction can happen in a number of ways, including from foreign objects or from the constriction of the airway itself. Some common causes of airway obstruction include:
- Choking on food
- Swallowing a foreign object
- Crushed chest injuries
No matter what blocks the airway, the result can be the same — an acquired brain injury. The key to reducing damage when there is an airway obstruction is to get oxygenated blood to the brain as quickly as possible. Usually, this requires removing the obstruction or getting emergency medical care to open an alternate airway, such as a tracheotomy.
Temporary and Lasting Effects of an Airway Obstruction and ABIs
Airway obstructions can have drastically different effects on different people. Those who suffer a blocked airway for only a few minutes may recover quickly with few side effects. Some people who go without oxygen longer, however, suffer more serious brain injuries and many have lasting impairments because of the incident.
Some ways ABIs can temporarily or permanently affect a person who suffered an airway obstruction include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Disorientation and confusion
- Poor concentration and problems with focus
- Slow reaction times compared to before the incident
- Short-term memory loss
- Difficulty staying awake and severe fatigue
- Dizziness and balance issues
- Double vision and other vision issues
- Loss of sense of smell, ringing in the ears, and other sensory issues
- Nerve issues leading to numbness or tingling
- Emotional and behavioral changes
- Sleep disorders
- Mobility and coordination problems
The way an ABI suffered by you or a loved one affects the body depends on several factors, many of which are unknown and unpredictable in the first hours, days, and even weeks after an incident. These include:
- How long the brain went without oxygen
- The areas of the brain affected
- Preexisting conditions
- Medical complications
- Cooccurring injuries
- Access to treatment and rehabilitation
- Response to treatment and rehabilitation
The best way to learn more about your loved one’s prognosis is to discuss the injury and recovery with a doctor familiar with your case. Some people recover fully while others struggle with lifelong impairments after an ABI.
Treatment, Rehabilitation, and Therapy After an Airway Obstruction Incident
Doctors classify all brain injuries as either mild, moderate, or severe, per the Glasgow Coma Scale. An airway obstruction can cause any severity of ABI. Each level of severity requires its own treatment and follow-up care.
Minor ABIs usually result in very short loss of consciousness, if the person loses consciousness at all. She will require emergency department evaluation or treatment by a doctor and will likely miss a few days or a week at work. Most people with minor ABIs may not need to spend any time inpatient in the hospital unless there are co-occurring injuries or preexisting conditions.
Moderate ABIs usually results in losing consciousness for several minutes, and the person will often wake up and suffer confusion for several hours. She may feel “dazed.” Moderate ABIs usually require emergency medical care and may require several nights in the hospital followed by cognitive, physical, and/or occupational therapy depending on the areas of the brain affected.
It could take several months to a year to recover from a moderate ABI. Some have lasting impairments because of this type of injury.
With a severe ABI, a person may go into a coma and experience varying levels of awareness during this time. Severe ABIs can cause a person to lose consciousness for several days, weeks, or even a month or more. Once she wakes up, inpatient rehabilitation is usually necessary to regain strength and relearn skills. She may require ongoing therapy to regain as many skills as possible.
Any level of ABI can cause lasting damage to the areas of the brain it affects, causing any number of impairments. Each case is very different, and even people who suffer ABIs in very similar incidents can have drastically different outcomes.
You May Be Eligible to Recover Compensation After an Airway Obstruction and ABI
An airway obstruction can be an accident or related to a preexisting health condition. In some cases, though, it can also occur because of negligence. When an accident occurs because of someone else’s negligence, and you or a loved one suffers from ABI, you may have a legal case against the at-fault party. Some examples include:
- A child choking on a defective toy or part of a toy
- Anaphylaxis caused by an allergen you declared
- A violent act that crushes the airway
- A nursing home resident choking on food or drink he cannot swallow
These are just a few of the ways someone else’s careless or reckless act can cause you or a family member to suffer injuries. If someone in your family suffered an airway obstruction that resulted in an ABI, Newsome | Melton will review your case for free. If you have a viable personal injury case, our brain injury lawyers can pursue compensation for all your damages including:
- Medical bills
- Ongoing care costs
- Lost wages
- Diminished earning capacity
- Current and future pain and suffering
For more than two decades, our team has taken legal action on behalf of the victims of personal injury accidents. We will fight to protect your rights and go after the compensation you deserve. Call Newsome | Melton at (800) 917-5888 today to get started.