What is an Anoxic Brain Injury?

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The brain is the most critical organ in the body. It requires regular blood and oxygen flow to work correctly and remain healthy. If the flow of blood and oxygen is interrupted even for a little bit, there can be severe damage done to the brain, resulting in permanent disabilities and loss of function.

Read on to learn more about anoxic brain damage, its causes, anoxic brain injury life expectancy, and other important information.

What is an Anoxic Brain Injury?

Anoxic brain injury does not occur due to head trauma resulting from a blow to the head. Instead, it occurs due to oxygen deprivation. If neural cells are left with oxygen for too long, they begin to die in apoptosis.

Even though cell death is a regular occurrence in the human body, patients can suffer from permanent brain damage and even death if too many cells begin to die simultaneously.

What Causes Anoxic Brain Injury?

Anoxic brain injury causes are lack of oxygen to the brain. Below are the causes of decreased oxygen to the brain that can lead to anoxic brain injury:


When someone suffers from a stroke, they receive decreased blood and oxygen supply to a specific portion of their brain. This can lead to permanent damage to the affected brain tissue.

Heart Attack

The primary responsibility of the heart is to circulate blood around the body, and if for some reason the heart stops working correctly, oxygen and other nutrients won’t make it to the vital organs, including the brain.

Low Blood Pressure

Low blood pressure doesn’t always put you at risk. If it falls very low and for a sustained amount of time, there can be a decrease in blood and oxygen to the brain, leading to anoxic brain injury and even cardiac arrest.

Near Drowning

During a drowning, water fills the lungs, leading to the lungs being unable to provide oxygen for the body’s vital organs, including the brain. This decrease in oxygen may lead to anoxic brain injury, cardiac arrest, and even death.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide is a colourless and odourless gas that prohibits oxygen from reaching your vital organs once inhaled. When someone suffers from carbon monoxide poisoning, they feel dizzy or nauseous. Prolonged exposure can lead to loss of consciousness and death.


When someone is choking, their airway is partially or fully blocked by an object. The victim can suffer from brain damage or even death if the object is not dislodged immediately.

Drug Overdose

Recreational and prescription drugs can both affect the various mechanisms required to breathe. Drugs such as prescription opioids can slow down your heart rate and respiration enough to cause permanent brain damage due to oxygen deprivation.

Symptoms of Brain Injury

Anoxic brain injuries can cause loss of consciousness which can be short-term or long-term depending on oxygen deprivation. This can also lead to a comatose state.

When the victim regains consciousness, they may suffer from symptoms similar to traumatic injury to the brain, depending on the severity. The most severe damage can leave a person in a vegetative state.

The effects of an anoxic brain injury may include:

  • Headache
  • Difficulty with balance
  • Vision issues
  • Seizures
  • Issues with sensory perception
  • Issues with speaking and swallowing
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Loss of bowel and bladder control
  • Issues in sexual function
  • Motor function issues
  • Changes in personality
  • Problems in forming sentences
  • Confusion
  • Communicating problems
  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mood swings
  • Low attention span
  • Disorientation
  • Acting inappropriately
  • Difficulty in recognizing familiar people or places

Categories of Anoxic Brain Injury

Doctors usually classify anoxic brain injury into four main categories. These categories can give you an idea of the damage done to the victim and the long-term prognosis.

The categories are:

  • Diffuse Cerebral Hypoxia Mild to Moderate cases with minimal impairment.
  • Focal Cerebral Ischemia occurs due to stroke and is localized to a single area of the brain while the rest is unchanged.
  • Global Cerebral Ischemia occurs when there is a total stop of blood flow and oxygen to the brain, leading to catastrophic damage.
  • Cerebral Infarction is a brain injury that occurs due to stroke and affects multiple areas in the brain.

Diagnosis and Therapy

Treatment for an anoxic brain injury initially focuses on identifying the injury’s origin and preventing it from happening again. For instance, a blood clot or other cardiovascular health problems may be the cause of a stroke and can be avoided with a combination of blood thinners and lifestyle changes.

The diagnosis then depends on the level of the damage, your age at the time of the injury, your ability to get high-quality care, and your dedication to your own recovery. Among the methods that boost results are:

  • Speech-language pathology services are provided by a qualified professional.
  • Joining a support group, especially one that aims to help you in regaining the skills you have lost.
  • Counseling for mental health and family support.
  • Occupational therapy can help you in regaining abilities like eating and shopping.
  • You can recover movement with the help of physical therapy to help retrain your brain.
  • Details on your condition
  • guidance and support for exercising and eating well.

How a Lawyer Can Help with an Anoxic Brain Injury Case

If the anoxic brain injury was caused by the negligence of another party, such as a property owner who failed to keep their property safe or a medical practitioner who committed malpractice, they might be held accountable.

If a claim is made, there needs to be enough evidence in court to prove that negligence or malpractice took place to get compensation.

Victims of anoxic brain injury may require lifelong medical assistance, surgeries, doctors’ appointments, etc. They also suffer from a diminished quality of life, permanent disability, and lost wages.

A lawyer can help you navigate the complex legal work required to protect your rights and get a favourable outcome by negotiating for the maximum amount of compensation possible.

Bottom Line

Anoxic Brain Injury is horrific and can have long-term impacts on its victims. Victims can have their lives changed due to this injury, from a diminished quality of life to loss of wages present and future. Victims of this injury need legal help to gain appropriate compensation from at-fault parties.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does anoxic brain injury occur?

Anoxic brain injuries are produced by a total absence of oxygen in the brain, which causes brain cells to die after around four minutes of oxygen deprivation.

What are the chances of surviving an anoxic brain injury?

Overall survival statistics are still dismal with 22% of in-hospital patients and 10% of out-of-hospital cases. Secondary to brain damage, which is a reflection of the brain's resistance to ischemia and its complicated response to reperfusion, is a substantial cause of death.

Is anoxic brain injury permanent?

Yes, anoxic brain injury results mostly in severe and permanent injury. However, proper treatment can minimize the damage and manage symptoms.

How long does anoxic brain injury heal?

Anoxic brain Injury usually has permanent effects, but if there is reasonable improvement within the first month, the prognosis is favourable. The most rapid recovery occurs within the first six months, but you can get an idea of the long-term outcome after a year.

How do you treat anoxic brain injury?

Speech therapy, Physical therapy, nutritional and exercise counselling, family support, and mental health counselling can all positively impact recovery for victims of anoxic brain injury.

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