The brain stem is an essential part of the system that transmits information between the brain and other areas of the body. Brain-stem injuries can affect multiple areas of the body and body functions. Sensory and motor functions can be impaired because of a brain-stem injury.
Brain injuries can be minor, or they can result in debilitating conditions. For some individuals, a brain stem injury can result in life-altering conditions.
Effects of a Brain-Stem Injury on Other Body Functions
Because damage to the brain-stem can interrupt signals between the brain and other areas of the body, one or more critical bodily functions can be disrupted. A brain stem injury can result in problems with:
- Blood Flow
- Heart Function
- Heat Regulation
In addition to the severity of the injury, the location of the injury on the brain stem impacts the area or areas of the body that may be disrupted. Injuries to any of the three parts of the brain stem can result in significant impairments.
The three parts of the brain stem and bodily functions that they control are:
- Midbrain injuries can affect sleep, temperature regulation, hearing, motor control, and vision
- Pons injuries can affect taste, hearing, equilibrium, swallowing, posture, bladder control, eye movement, and taste
- Medulla Oblongata injuries can affect breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory functions
Immediate medical attention after an accident that causes head or neck injuries is essential. A physician can use a variety of diagnostic tools to determine the specific injury to the brain stem. By diagnosing the injury, your physician can develop a treatment plan that gives you the best chance of recovery without permanent disabilities or impairments.
Common Symptoms Caused by Injuries to the Brain Stem
Brain injuries range from mild concussions to traumatic brain injury. Injuries to the brain stem can present mild to severe symptoms.
The symptoms of a brain stem injury can be immediate or may develop over several hours or days following an accident. Symptoms may be mild at first and worsen over time.
Common brain stem injury symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Difficulty with Coordination or Balance
- Blurry Vision
- Slurred Speech
- Altered Heart Rate
- Loss of Sense or Smell
- Decreases in Motor Function
- Fixation of Pupils to Light
- Insomnia or Abnormal Sleep Patterns
- Loss of Consciousness
- Loss or Interruption to Bodily Functions
- Repetitive Jerky Eye Movements
- Problems Swallowing
It is important to remember that the symptoms of brain injuries vary by person. You could experience one or more of the above symptoms, or you could suffer from different symptoms. Any unexplained symptoms after a head injury could indicate a brain stem injury or other brain injuries.
What Causes Injuries to the Brain Stem?
There are many different ways for the brain stem to sustain an injury. Intentional acts of violence or random accidents are often causes of brain stem injuries. Sports and recreational activities can also cause injuries to the brain stem.
Causes of brain stem injuries include:
- Slip and Fall Accidents
- Sports and Recreational Activities
- Car Accidents
- Assault and Battery
- Large Truck Accidents
- Workplace Accidents
- Motorcycle Crashes
- Dog Attacks
- Bicycle Accidents
- Premises Liability Accidents
- Pedestrian Accidents
- Construction Site Accidents
- Swimming Pool Accidents
If another party is responsible for causing the brain stem injury, that party could be responsible for the damages incurred by the victim. Damages may include medical treatment, personal care, lost wages, pain, and suffering. A victim that sustains a permanent impairment could also receive compensation for future damages.
How Are Brain Stem Injuries Treated?
The treatment for brain stem injuries depends on the severity and type of injury. After a doctor diagnoses the brain stem injury, the doctor develops a treatment plan for the patient.
Treatment plans for injuries to the brain stem may include surgery to repair the injury. Many patients require extensive physical and occupational therapy. Patients may be moved to a rehabilitation center, or they may receive in-home therapy and care.
Some patients can regain full physical and occupational abilities. Other patients may never recover fully from a brain stem injury.
The costs of a brain stem injury can be enormous. A person may need 24/7 care after an injury to the brain stem. Other victims may need assisted care.
An attorney can help you seek compensation to help pay for medical care, personal care, and other expenses related to the brain stem injury. While money will not undo the pain and suffering caused by a brain stem injury, compensation for an injury claim can help you pay for the necessary care and services to help you have the best quality of life possible.