Anoxic Brain Injury

Picture driving down the highway and realizing your fuel tank is on empty.  You know all too well what will happen if you car runs out of gas; the car will sputter as it uses the last drop of fuel in the tank and then the engine will cease to run when fuel is not longer available.  If you are lucky, your engine will not have sustained much damage and should start again without issue once you fill it up with fuel.  Now imagine what happens if you were to cut of your oxygen supply to your brain.  Would it just shut off again and return to normal once it begins receiving oxygen?  Chances are that wouldn't be the case.  Your brain relies on oxygen, carried through your blood, to fuel its activity.  When the oxygen supply to the brain is insufficient for four minutes or longer, brain injury can result. Brain cells will die and permanent anoxic brain injury results after just five minutes. Also called cerebral hypoxia or hypoxic-anoxic injury, this situation can create disabilities and cognitive problems, in addition to physical and psychological disorders. Recovery depends on which parts of the brain are affected by the lack of oxygen and how severe the damage is.

"Did you know your brain uses one fifth of your body's total oxygen?" 

The damage to the brain is dependent upon the amount of oxygen that is deprived.  Severe anoxic brain injury is due to total lack of oxygen, while a partial lack of oxygen, or hypoxic brain injury, causes less serious effects. Either situation can occur as the consequence of a stroke, cardiac arrest, choking, suffocation, brain tumors, and anesthesia accidents. Another cause is asphyxia which could be triggered by near drownings or suicide attempts, as well as electrocution, chest trauma, severe bronchial asthma, or barbiturate poisoning. 

Anoxic Anoxia

Have you heard of altitude sickness?  Altitude sickness, also called anoxic anoxia, occurs, because the thinner air contains less oxygen than the body needs to perform its functions successfully. And toxic anoxia occurs when toxins that are inhaled or ingested into the body impede the body’s normal processing of oxygen.

Anemic Anoxia

Another condition known as anemic anoxia occurs if a person doesn’t have an adequate supply of blood or hemoglobin, the chemical in the red blood cells that allows them to carry oxygen through the body. Anemic anoxia can occur in conditions of chronic anemia, acute hemorrhage, or carbon monoxide poisoning.

Anoxic Brain Injury Recovery

Anoxic brain injury treatment is not an easy path, as often the damage caused by lack of oxygen to the brain is permanent. During the first few days, the use of barbiturates can slow the brain’s activity and let the cells recover, but it can’t reverse the damage. The best path is to begin rehabilitation as soon as possible with the support of doctors and family members.