Brain-Stem Injuries: Causes and Effects

Brain injuries are some of the most serious injuries a person can sustain. The brain controls all bodily functions. Depending on the severity and location of the brain injury, the injury could result in permanent impairments and disabilities.

The brain stem connects a person’s brain to the spinal column. It is located at the base of the skull. The brain stem is part of the body’s communication system.

A brain stem injury can also result in disabilities and permanent impairments. 

What Body Functions Does the Brain Stem Control?

The brain stem is made up of three sections. Each section of the brain stem controls specific bodily functions. The three sections of the brain stem are:

  • Medulla Oblongata – This part of the brain stem regulates and controls a person’s respiratory functions, heart rate, and blood pressure.
  • Pons – This part of the brain stem regulates and controls swallowing, posture, equilibrium, bladder functions, and the senses.
  • Midbrain – This part of the brain stem regulates and controls motor functions, body temperature, sleep, vision, and motor control.

The effects of a brain stem injury depend on the area of the brain stem injured and the severity of the injury. In some cases, a person could require life-sustaining medical intervention to prevent death. If a person is placed on life-support, the damage could be irreversible. 

How Do Brain Stem Injuries Occur?

Any blow to the base of the skull could result in a brain stem injury. Most brain stem injuries are the result of trauma or accidents. 

Common situations that could lead to a brain stem injury are:

Almost any accident can result in a brain stem injury. After an accident, it is best to seek immediate medical attention. 

Brain Stem Symptoms – What to Look for After an Accident or Injury?

Each injury is unique. You might not experience the same symptoms of a brain stem injury as another person. Many factors could dictate the effects of a brain stem injury. 

Some common brain stem symptoms include:

  • Problems swallowing
  • Loss of or interruption in bodily functions
  • Breathing problems
  • Blurred vision
  • Paralysis
  • Slurred speech
  • Change in heart rate
  • Loss of sensations or senses
  • Hearing loss
  • Coma or loss of consciousness
  • Insomnia and/or changes in sleep patterns
  • Dizziness, vomiting, and/or nausea
  • Problems with coordination and balance
  • Decreases in motor functions

If your symptoms worsen after you see a doctor, notify the doctor immediately. Your brain stem injury could be worse than initially diagnosed. 

Prompt medical treatment after a brain stem injury could reduce your risk of disability or life-threatening complications. Seeing a doctor as soon as possible after an accident or injury also helps you protect your right to fair compensation for a brain stem injury.

What Compensation is Available for a Brain Stem Injury?

If another party caused your injury, you could seek compensation for damages. Florida personal injury laws allow victims to recover compensation for their financial losses. You can also recover compensation for your pain and suffering.

The facts of your case determine the types of damages and the amount of compensation you are entitled to receive. However, brain stem injury cases often include damages such as:

  • Cost of medical treatment and care immediately following the accident
  • Cost of in-home health care and personal care
  • Cost of occupational therapy, physical therapy, vocational therapy, speech therapy, etc.
  • Loss of income and benefits
  • Reductions in earning potential because of permanent impairments
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Permanent impairments and disabilities
  • Mental trauma and emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life and quality of life

Generally, the value of a brain stem injury claim increases as the severity of the brain stem injury increases. The cost of treatment and loss of income increases when a person sustains a permanent impairment. The value of pain and suffering also increases with the severity of the injury.

How Long Do I Have to File a Claim for Compensation After a Brain Stem Injury?

The statute of limitations (deadline) for filing personal injury claims in Florida is usually four years after the date of injury. However, there are exceptions to the rule. If a government entity is involved in the case, the deadline for filing a notice of claim is just a few months after the accident.

If you have questions about a brain stem injury claim, you can talk to a lawyer. Keep in mind that waiting too long to talk with a lawyer could result in losing some of your legal rights.