An electrical shock can lead to an acquired brain injury (ABI) in two different ways. The initial jolt of electricity to the body can affect the central nervous system, motor neurons, and other nerves, as well as their control centers in the brain. These areas are damaged, often leading to a permanent impairment after high voltage exposure.
It is also possible to experience a brain injury after an electrical shock as a secondary result of oxygen deficiency. This occurs when the heart rhythm gets disrupted, often stopping. If the person goes without oxygen for more than a few minutes before resuscitation, the oxygen deficiency may cause an electric shock acquired brain injury.
Common Causes of Electrical Shock
Electrical shock happens in a wide variety of ways, including:
- Defective appliances
- Damaged or frayed cords, or children who bite or cut cords
- Electrical appliances exposed to water
- Problems with household wiring
- Downed power lines
- Lightning strike
- Industrial accidents
- Construction site accidents
- Other workplace accidents
Many of these shocks are entirely preventable. Homeowners must be aware of any electrical or wiring issues and notify a professional for repairs right away. Construction sites must clearly mark exposed wiring on the job site and take precautions to avoid downed power lines after a storm.
Understanding the Effects of an Electrical Shock on the Brain
Research shows that even relatively minor shocks can cause damage to the brain. Low voltage shocks cause changes that go mostly unreported and may not be significant enough to bother the victim. However, when the shock is high-voltage, death or permanent impairment is likely.
Death from an electrical shock can happen almost instantly when the jolt stops the heart. When the heart continues beating despite a high-voltage exposure, or when the victim receives quick resuscitation, a serious electric shock acquired brain injury can become a major hurdle to their recovery.
Electric shock acquired brain injuries (ABIs) are often diffuse brain injuries. This means they affect large parts of the brain and cause devastating impairments. Even though the victim has survived their initial injury, they may require extensive rehabilitation.
Effects of an electrical shock may become long-term or even permanent and may include:
- Muscular pain, weakness, and discomfort
- Numbness of the extremities and other issues with sensation
- Issues with peripheral nerve conduction
- Problems with balance and coordination
- Slowed mental processing
- Problems with attention, concentration, and focus
- Short-term memory issues and amnesia related to the event
- Psychological symptoms including personality changes
How electrical shock affects a victim is different for everyone. Even when two people experience similar exposure, there is no way to predict their respective outcomes. Factors affecting recovery may include:
- The voltage of the electrical shock
- How long they were exposed to the voltage
- How long they were without oxygen to their brain
- The areas of the brain that suffered damage
- Other co-occurring or pre-existing conditions
- Their response to treatment and rehabilitation
Getting Treatment and Rehabilitation After an Electrical Shock
Doctors classify all brain injuries according to their severity, per the Glasgow Coma Scale. Electrical shock can cause mild, moderate, or severe ABIs. Adequate medical care and thorough rehabilitation are key to making as full a recovery as possible.
Mild electric shock ABIs usually stem from minimal exposure to low-voltage electricity. Some patients need inpatient treatment for burns or cardiac involvement. The ABIs associated with these injuries usually do not require in-hospital treatment. Patients usually recover from their ABIs within a few weeks or months.
Moderate ABIs affect larger areas of the brain. They may require several days in the hospital for treatment and observation, although a cardiac injury is often the primary concern. Moderate brain injuries sometimes require inpatient rehabilitation and/or outpatient therapies.
Severe brain injuries often lead to extended periods of unconsciousness, as well as severe burns or cardiac injuries. Most people who suffer a severe brain injury require intensive inpatient rehabilitation. They will likely need to rebuild strength, relearn basic skills, and learn to live independently again. Many need help communicating, walking, feeding themselves, getting dressed, and taking care of other tasks. Ongoing care is often necessary.
Because every brain injury is unique, any level of brain injury can leave the victim with a lasting impairment. Even mild ABIs can cause a major disruption in the victim’s life if they affect parts of the brain that control major functions.
Electrical Shock as a Personal Injury Accident
In some cases, an electrical shock incident may support a personal injury claim. You may have the opportunity to take legal action against a party who caused or failed to prevent your accident. This allows you to recover compensation to pay your medical bills and ongoing care costs, cover lost wages, and compensate you for other losses.
Some ways electric shock can occur because of negligence include:
- Exposure to unsafe wiring on someone else’s property
- A lightning strike during a sporting event or other outdoor event
- Industrial accidents
- Exposure to exposed wiring on a construction site
If you or a member of your family sustained injuries and an ABI in an electrical shock incident, let the Newsome | Melton legal team review the facts of your case. We offer free consultations and will pursue compensation on your behalf. Call us today to get started: (800) 917-5888.