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What Are the Causes and Effects of Brain-Stem Injuries?

Posted in Brain Injury on January 26, 2024

What Are the Causes and Effects of Brain-Stem Injuries?

The brain stem is one of the smallest parts of the brain, but it’s crucial for sustaining life. Traumatic brain stem injury (TBSI) is one of the most serious forms of brain injury as it can be life-threatening or cause permanent disability.

What Is the Brain Stem?

There are three main parts of the brain:

  • Cerebrum. The largest part of the brain is responsible for most higher brain functions like problem-solving, speech, and judgment. It’s divided into four lobes.
  • Cerebellum. It has two hemispheres and plays an important role in coordinating voluntary movements and maintaining balance, posture, and equilibrium.
  • Brain stem. It connects the cerebrum and the spinal cord. There are three parts: the midbrain, pons, and medulla.

The primary role of the brain stem is regulating non-voluntary body functions like breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, reflexes, swallowing, and consciousness. It’s responsible for sending and coordinating messages between the brain and the rest of the body.

Despite its relatively small size, damage to the brain stem can result in significant physical, cognitive, and emotional consequences.

Causes of Brain Stem Injuries

A brain stem injury is usually caused by trauma or an accident. A severe blow to the back of the head, sudden acceleration and deceleration without a head injury, or a penetrating injury can all injure the delicate brain stem.

Most traumatic brain stem injuries are caused by:

What Are The Effects Of Brain Stem Injuries?

The effects of a brain stem injury can be life-altering. Some victims with mild injuries can recover fully, but traumatic brain stem injuries often result in life-long consequences.

Disrupted Circadian Rhythm

The brain stem plays a crucial role in regulating circadian rhythm, and a TBSI can disrupt this sleep-wake cycle. Individuals may struggle with insomnia or experience persistent drowsiness, which can impair their ability to function in daily life.

Coma or Altered Consciousness

The brain stem’s reticular activating system controls states of consciousness and the ability to wake up. When this system is affected, it can result in a coma or other changes to consciousness.

Motor Function Impairment

Motor function is complex and requires coordination and communication between many parts of the brain. It’s common for more than just the brain stem to suffer damage in an accident. Ataxia, or impaired balance, often occurs with TBSI because the cerebellum is frequently injured as well.

Difficulty Swallowing

The brain stem’s medulla controls swallowing. When it’s damaged, it can cause dysphagia, or swallowing problems. Brain stem damage may also affect the gag reflex and automatic swallowing which increases the risk of choking.

Difficulty Breathing

The medulla senses carbon dioxide levels in the blood and adjusts respiratory rate. When the medulla is injured, the brain has trouble recognizing the body’s oxygen needs. This can cause:

  • Hyperventilation
  • Hypoventilation
  • Apnea, or a lack of breathing
  • Apneustic breathing, or difficulty exhaling

These problems can require a ventilator until normal respiration returns.

Locked-In Syndrome

This is one of the most severe consequences of a brain stem injury. It results in complete paralysis except for the eyes. Only motor function, or the ability to move, is affected; the injury victim can still think, hear, and reason fully. Most people never regain the ability to move.

What Compensation Can You Recover For A Brain Stem Injury?

Navigating the aftermath of a brain stem injury often involves not just recovery but also addressing the financial fallout. If your brain injury was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be able to hold them financially accountable.

A personal injury lawsuit allows you to pursue full compensation for your medical expenses and to secure a stable future. Damages you can recover are divided into two broad categories: economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages include financial losses like:

Non-economic damages are the intangible physical, emotional, and psychological losses you suffered. This includes pain and suffering, reduced quality of life, and mental anguish.

Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in Brooklyn, NY

If you suffered a brain stem injury in an accident, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you pursue the compensation you need. Call the Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation with a New York personal injury lawyer to discuss your case and what we can do to help.

We have two convenient locations in New York:

Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers – New York City Office
450 7th Ave #409
New York, NY 10123
(212) 564-2800

Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers – Brooklyn Office
26 Court St Suite 2511
Brooklyn, NY 11242
(718) 802-1600

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