Hypoxic Brain Injury

Medico-legal guidance for solicitors

Cerebral hypoxia or anoxia occurs when there is a break in the continuous supply of oxygen to the brain. This cut-off of oxygen leaves the brain unable to maintain its normal physiological functions that control almost all the processes going on inside the human body.

The brain needs a continuous supply of oxygen and without it can only survive for up to six minutes unless its supply is restored. Hypoxia and anoxia are used interchangeably, but hypoxia is when the oxygen supply to the organ is lessened, and anoxia refers to the complete absence of the oxygen supply to an organ. This decrease or absence of oxygen supply may be due to rupture or blockage of a key blood vessel in the brain. Hypoxia further leads to the activation of a chain of biochemical and molecular events that continues this cycle of brain damage and ultimately leads to neuronal death.

Hypoxic/anoxic brain injury can be caused by a number of events that interrupt oxygen supply to the brain. Mild cerebral hypoxia may occur in cases of asthma, ascent after deep diving and at high altitudes. Severe hypoxia is usually secondary to extreme trauma cases, such as suffocation, strangulation, choking, drowning and smoke inhalation. Carbon monoxide poisoning and drug overdose also contribute to severe brain hypoxia.

Other causes of decreased oxygen supply to the brain include cardiac arrest, irregular heart rhythm and very low blood pressure as seen during severe blood loss in trauma cases. Of these, cardiac arrest is seen to be the most common cause of hypoxic brain injury.

The symptoms of hypoxic brain injury may be mild or severe. Mild symptoms include loss of memory, paralysis, decreased attention and co-ordination. Severe symptoms like seizures, coma or even brain death can occur in cases of prolonged, severe cerebral hypoxia.

The sequence of events following a brain injury involves seizures, myoclonus, disorders of movement, dysfunction in cognition and other neurological abnormalities. Severe hypoxia can also lead to a prolonged disorder of consciousness, or coma, where may be able to open their eyes or make vocal noises, but they have no recognisable cognitive functions and are unable to respond to the people they are surrounded by.

The main goals of treatment in cases of cerebral hypoxia include both acute management of the patient and neurorehabilitation. Acute management involves stabilising the patient and treating any physical injuries. Later on, neurorehabilitation is required in order to resolve the long-term problems the person may face after brain injury.

This is achieved by a multi-disciplinary team, so that the best outcomes may be achieved in treating these long -erm complications. Improvement after brain injury depends on various factors like duration and severity of hypoxia. In cases of hypoxic brain injury, fast access to neurorehabilitation can lead to better outcomes for the patient.

NRC Medical Experts believe that individuals living hypoxic brain injury should be offered neurorehabilitation to reduce the impact on their quality of life.

Our specialists are experienced in assessment by thorough evaluation, examination, producing court reports and medico-legal witness testimony in legal issues concerning hypoxic brain injury.

Meet our experts specialising in hypoxic brain injury and contact us to arrange a complimentary pre-instruction conversation today.

Instruct an Expert WitnessMeet Our Hypoxic Brain Injury Experts

Client feedback

"My team and I found your training one of the most interesting and useful training sessions we have been on. I feel that not only do I have more confidence in knowing which type of expert should be dealing with the diagnosis and condition/prognosis questions, but it is good to know we could ask you about this."

"Just a quick note to say I am very pleased with the report and to thank you for arranging to see the Claimant and producing the report so efficiently."

"Your report was extremely thorough and comprehensive, a real game changer in this case."

"Your expert prepared a fantastic report on my client; we have been really impressed."

"Always a first class service by the NNRC."

Covid-19 Update

It's business as usual at NRC Medical Experts.

Our offices are closed, however we are working from home with full access to all our systems. The team is available via email – contact us as usual and we'll get back to you as quickly as ever.