Anoxic brain injury is caused by a lack of oxygen going to the brain. The brain begins losing brain cells after only four minutes without oxygen. There are very few things in life that you can do in that short amount of time. Please understand that when a brain loses brain cells, it's not like you losing your car keys. Lost, in this context, means dead!
Readers of Brain Injury Survivor's Guide are familiar with the fact that Beth's anoxic brain injury was caused by a stroke after suffering Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) in the hospital while recovering from surgery. And you're also familiar with the fact that the stroke and subsequent brain injury went undiagnosed for months.
Anoxic brain injury differs from hypoxic brain injury simply as a matter of amounts. Anoxia results from a lack of oxygen; hypoxia results from the lack of an adequate supply of oxygen. In fact, the two are so closely related that the medical community uses HAI which stands for hypoxic-anoxic brain injury.
However, even though the two are kissing cousins, a total lack of oxygen can cause more widespread and more significant brain damage. Then again, is a total lack of oxygen for five minutes worse than an inadequate supply of oxygen for an hour?
Causes of Anoxic Brain Injury
Cardiac arrest normally receives the prize as being the leading cause of anoxic brain injury. Or, does it? A 1989 study showed cardiovascular disease and anesthesia accidents caused one-third of all anoxic brain injuries.
Asphyxia, caused by suicide attempts and near-drownings, is another cause. The study also found that anoxia was commonly caused by chest trauma, barbituate poisoning (drug use), electrocution and severe bronchial asthma.
About Brain Injury
The reason behind a brain injury may be important in a court of law, but the common effects of brain injury apply regardless of how the brain was injured. A person living with an injured brain will face memory problems, cognitive problems, and behavioral problems.
Some of these problems will be helped by medication or therapy. For the most part, a good number of brain injury symptoms never go away. Family members and those living with an injured brain must develop strategies to "work around" what the brain is not doing.
Always remember that an injured brain is just that: an injured brain. It is not less smart than it was. It processes information more slowly, giving the appearance of diminished intellect but, for the most part, the intellect is still alive and well.
This causes a great deal of confusion and frustration for a person living with brain injury. They know what they want to say and they know what they want to do but the brain prevents it. And that causes them to NOT KNOW what they want to say and to NOT KNOW what they want to do.
If those last two sentences sounded confusing...well, welcome to the world of a brain injured person.
Beth's Brain Injury Blog has additional information about living after having an anoxic brain injury:
Developing the Creative Side after Brain Injury - "Over and over again we see survivors discover another side of themselves after having suffered a traumatic brain injury, an anoxic brain injury, a stroke, or other type of acquired brain injury. Many times their inability to do what they once did presents an opportunity to develop the creative side of the brain." - this is simply a lead to the article. Click the link to read the article.
My Pet Peeve - or was that a B? - It's that Brain Injury Thing Again - "Everyone has a pet peeve – at least one thing that just makes their skin crawl or frustrates them to no end. Well, one of mine is when I write (or type) a P when I intend for it to be a B (or vice-versa). That just happens to be one of the results of my anoxic brain injury. If you have one of these irritating pet peeves you can't dismiss because it's a permanent situation, first find a way to be amused by it. Don't dwell too much on it either, but always be on the lookout for a compensatory strategy that just might make life easier." - this is simply a lead to the article. Click the link to read the article.