A crushed chest can cause a hypoxic brain injury, meaning there was a disruption in the oxygen available to the brain. This is a type of acquired brain injury, also known as ABI. When an injured person loses the ability to breathe, their body can no longer supply oxygenated blood to vital organs such as the brain.
Without oxygen, cells begin to die. Organs shut down and affected areas of the brain may not function properly. Permanent damage can occur in minutes, and emergency medical intervention is necessary.
Common Causes of Crush Injuries to the Chest
Crush injuries can occur in a variety of ways. Most involve some type of traumatic accident. This commonly includes:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Pedestrian or cyclist versus motor vehicle accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bus accidents
- Industrial accidents
- Construction site accidents
- Trench collapses
- Other workplace accidents
Any incident that pins the victim between two objects, the ground and an object, or a wall and an object could create this type of crushing chest injury and lead to ABI and other serious health concerns.
Understanding the Effects of a Crushed Chest Injury on the Brain
Crush injuries to the chest are often deadly, especially without quick and thorough medical intervention to ensure there is a stable airway and the patient can breathe. Deaths within the first few minutes can occur because of damage to the heart or lungs, but some patients slip into a coma and never wake up.
A hypoxic brain injury can cause either focal or diffuse brain damage. Diffuse brain injuries affect large parts of the brain and how they communicate with one another and can be especially devastating. If the victim survives the initial injury, they may need to relearn basic skills or may never regain their independence.
Even those with less severe injuries may experience a number of impairments in the days and weeks following their accident. Some of these may become long-term or permanent. They include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Disorientation, confusion, and feeling “dazed”
- Poor concentration and focus
- Slow reaction and response times
- Loss of short-term memory and other memory-related impairments
- Severe fatigue and inability to stay awake
- Dizziness and balance issues
- Double vision and other visual disturbances
- Loss of sense of smell, ringing in the ears, and other sensory impairments
- Nerve pain, numbness, or tingling
- Emotional and behavioral changes
- Personality changes
- Epilepsy and seizures
- Insomnia and other sleep disturbances
- Problems with mobility, coordination, and dexterity
Many people who suffer from these injuries and survive the first few hours will recover with only a few lasting impairments. However, every ABI is different. Even two injuries occurring, in the same way, can have two very different outcomes. How much the accident will impact the rest of a person’s life depends on many factors. This includes:
- How long before the victim got oxygenated blood to their brain
- What areas of the brain suffered damage
- Other co-occurring or preexisting conditions
- How the victim responded to treatment and rehabilitation
The best way to understand how crushed chest ABI may affect you or a family member in the years to come is to discuss your situation with a doctor who is familiar with your case. They can determine the prognosis for your hypoxic brain injury and help you get the rehabilitation and therapy you need.
Getting Treatment and Rehabilitation After a Crushed Chest ABI
While getting prompt treatment to restore respiration is key in any crushed chest injury, the rehabilitation process that begins after the patient is awake and recovering is paramount in regaining as many skills as possible.
There are three levels of severity for ABI: mild, moderate, and severe. Each level of severity, based on the Glasgow Coma Scale, requires a different level of follow-up and posthospital care.
Mild ABI usually leads to only a short loss of consciousness or no loss of consciousness at all. While the patient may require hospitalization for other injuries, they often do not need inpatient care for their ABI. They will recover from their brain injury in a few weeks or months and may need physical, cognitive, or occupational therapy, but this rarely requires inpatient rehabilitation.
Moderate ABI usually causes a loss of consciousness that lasts for a few hours or longer. It affects larger areas of the brain. The patient may spend several days in the hospital for their ABI, regardless of other injuries. They will likely need a short stay in inpatient rehabilitation followed by outpatient therapies.
Severe brain injury may lead to a coma lasting several days to months. Some people never fully wake up, living the rest of their lives in various levels of consciousness. Those who do wake up often spend weeks in the hospital for their chest wounds and brain injuries, followed by intensive inpatient rehabilitation. This allows them to regain strength and redevelop skills.
They may need to learn to walk and talk again, to feed themselves, and to change clothes on their own. Ongoing care and therapy may also be necessary.
It is important to note that any level of ABI can cause lasting impairments for the victim. Even those with relatively mild brain injuries may be affected in an area of the brain that controls key functions. They may need regular help with certain tasks or learn to adapt to different methods in order to live independently.
Pursuing Compensation for Your Injury Accident
It may be possible to take legal action after a crushed chest acquired brain injury, for example, when your injuries occurred in a:
- Car accident
- Truck accident
- Industrial accident
- Construction accident
- Other personal injury accident
If you or a member of your family suffered a crushed chest injury and an ABI, the legal team from Newsome Melton will review your case for free. We fight to protect your right to compensation and take legal action on your behalf. Call Newsome Melton today to learn more: 1-866-611-BASC.