A variety of negligence in medical practice, from anesthesia errors to medical malpractice by neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons, can lead to terrible injuries in the brain and the spinal cord. A few examples:
- Stroke can be a preventable disease, yet all too often, early signs of stroke, known as transient ischemic attacks, are ignored or misinterpreted by some doctors. Aggressive treatment of stroke in its early stages also can greatly lessen the disability caused by stroke.
- A blocked airway that is not timely treated can also lead to devastating brain injury.
- Less obvious but very important: Poor treatment of a heart attack can result in brain damage from lack of oxygenated blood flow to the brain.
There are many other ways that sub-standard medical care can result in brain injury. Click below to go to one of our specific pages, or go on to read our general introduction to this very large and important topic.
- Bacterial meningitis.
Trauma to the head is not the only way the brain can be injured. Other types of non-traumatic brain injuries include:
- Stroke. Stroke is very common, particularly among older Americans. There are two basic kinds of stroke:
- Ischemic stroke, in which the flow of blood to the brain is blocked by narrowing of the arteries in the neck or brain, or obstructions from blood clots traveling from the heart or forming in the brain itself.
- Hemorrhagic or bleeding stroke, in which a blood vessel in the brain bursts. This is often related to an aneurysm.
- Airway obstruction. Lack of oxygen for even a few minutes – from near-drowning, choking, strangulation and similar causes – can cause permanent brain injury or death.
- Heart attack. A heart attack can cause serious brain injury if flow of oxygen-rich blood to the brain stops for a period of minutes. That is why CPR is so important for a person whose heart has stopped pumping.
- Meningitis. Inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord – the meninges – can lead to serious brain injury if not treated promptly.
- Carbon monoxide poisoning causes loss of oxygen and leads to direct brain injury.
- Hypoxic brain injury. Newborn babies can suffer severe brain injury from a variety of causes during the birthing process, many of which relate to lack of oxygen (hypoxia) to the brain. This can lead to cerebral palsy and related disorders.
- Other causes of non-traumatic brain injury include AIDS, brain tumors, hypo/hyperglycemia (abnormal levels of blood sugar), seizure disorders, childhood exposure to toxins such as lead, electrical shock (which can stop the heart and lead to brain damage), and many other causes.
A significant number of brain injuries occur every year for reasons related to medical care. Leading causes include:
- Failing to diagnose someone at high risk for stroke and give them preventive care.
- Failing to promptly treat a patient with a new stroke to prevent and lessen the damage.
- Allowing a newborn baby to suffocate during the birthing process.
- Misdiagnosing a multitude of conditions and failing to give treatment that can prevent other types of brain injury. These include bacterial meningitis (see our separate web page on meningitis in children), encephalitis, other infectious diseases, aneurysms, seizure disorders, and exposures to toxins.
Health care providers often use the term “acquired brain injury.” An acquired brain injury is any brain injury that has occurred after birth. An acquired brain injury may result in mild, moderate, or severe impairments in one or more areas, including cognition, speech-language communication; memory; attention and concentration; reasoning; abstract thinking; physical functions; psychosocial behavior; and information processing.
Most symptoms of acquired brain injuries are very similar to those of traumatic brain injuries. However, there are some difficulties that are experienced more commonly by persons with acquired brain injuries. These symptoms include:
- Cognitive (thinking skills) impairment, especially memory skills.
- Severe behavior problems including psychosis, depression, restlessness, combativeness, hostility.
- Muscle movement disorders, spasticity of muscles, and paralysis.
Read more from an online text by Dr. Glen Johnson, a Clinical Neuropsychologist in private practice. This popular online text for families and patients provides detailed but easy to understand descriptions of what it’s like to deal with a traumatic brain injury. He discusses coping with the effects of traumatic brain injury and the prospects for getting better.
These sections of the TBI guide discuss many serious chronic symptoms of TBI and coping strategies for each symptom.
- Problems Getting Organized
- Getting Overloaded
- Sleep Disorders
- Anger and Depression
Other helpful resources:
- A great clearinghouse of books and other printed resources for people with brain injuries and their families.
- Check out a self-help column specifically written for brain injury patients and their families.
- BrainInjuryChat.org allows you to talk to other patients with TBI and use chat rooms and view message boards for TBI survivors and their families.
- The Brain Injury Association provides a collection of personal web sites, created by patients coping with TBI.
- This job site provides a service designed to help increase good employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Post your resume or look for a job.
- Parrot Software is a provider of software programs that assist in rehabilitating brain injured patients. This software develops skills in areas such as Memory & Attention, Reading and Word Finding, Logic and Reading, and others.
- Brain-Train Cognitive Retraining software was developed over a 20-year period in a clinical setting providing outpatient services to clients diagnosed with acquired neurological disorders. The software addresses basic cognitive skills and helps train TBI patients in the skills required to obtain a job.
- Stroke Family’s speech and word-finding software helps in-home stroke patients practice talking at home using their own computer. They have a free online demo of the program. They also have products for stroke and TBI patients’ families.
- Anatomy of a Brain Injury Lawsuit.
- CT Scans Showing Brain Damage Caused by a Surgeon.
- Brain Injury Lawsuits: Track Record of Patrick Malone & Associates, P.C.
Good medical care can often minimize or prevent a significant brain injury from one of these medical conditions. Or there can be other ways in which the brain injury could have been prevented. So a lawsuit can be appropriate in some circumstances, depending on what an investigation by a qualified lawyer finds.
The lawyers at Patrick Malone & Associates provide free and confidential consultations to help sort out your legal options. Contact Us or call 1-202-742-1500 or toll free at 1-888-625-6635 for a free case evaluation.