A medical error during surgery can lead to brain stem damage. When that happens, the patient may develop a host of complications. Perhaps the most severe is locked-in syndrome, an extreme form of paralysis in which a person loses the ability to move every voluntary muscle in the body except the ones controlling eye movement. If you or someone you love suffered brain stem damage during surgery, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Pintas & Mullins is a medical malpractice law firm that helps patients hold doctors and health care providers liable for negligence. We have helped many clients recover large settlements to compensate them for injuries he or she suffered due to malpractice. We offer a free consultation and never get paid until you do. To speak with a member of our team today, call us at 800-916-7333.
How Surgical Errors Can Lead to Brain Stem Damage
The brain stem is situated at the base of the skull and helps relay nerve signals between the brain and spinal cord. These signals get transmitted all over the body and allow you to walk, speak, sit down, stand up, and carry out pretty much any other voluntary activity. If this line of communication gets damaged, you can lose some of these capabilities.
Brain stem damage can occur several ways, but two of the most common are trauma and lack of oxygen. Both may occur when a doctor is negligent or makes an error performing brain or spinal surgery.
Lack of Oxygen to the Brain
If blood or oxygen flow gets cut off to the brain, damage can occur quickly. And unlike other areas of the body, brain cells do not regenerate themselves when they die. That is why brain damage is much more permanent than most other injuries.
When a doctor performs surgery on or near the brain, he or she must take special care to make no areas of the brain, including the stem, get cut off from their oxygen supply. A doctor who fails to do this may be guilty of negligence, and a lawyer can help you build a case against them and recover damages.
Trauma to the Brain
Head trauma during surgery may also damage the brain stem, leading to locked-in syndrome or other medical complications. Our team will search for evidence of trauma and use it to hold the doctor, health care provider, or medical facility accountable for your injury.
Occasionally, brain stem damage results not from surgery itself but from the medication prescribed by a doctor to take during the post-surgery recovery period. Certain medications can increase the risk of bleeding to the brain, particularly with the patient has a pre-existing condition or a contraindication with another drug. It is the doctor’s duty to exercise the proper care to prevent this type of situation from occurring.
No matter how you or your loved one’s brain stem injury occurred, we can help you pursue a medical malpractice case against the responsible party. For a free case evaluation, call us today at 800-916-7333.
How Brain Stem Damage Can Cause Locked-In Syndrome
Locked-in syndrome is one of the most extreme effects of a brain stem injury. It is like quadriplegia and then some, affecting the facial muscles and even the mechanisms that allow you to breathe and swallow. It has no effect on cognition, eyesight, or hearing, so you remain aware of everything going on around you, and you can form thoughts, ideas, and opinions the same as before, but communicating them becomes exceedingly difficult.
Brain stem injuries can cause locked-in syndrome via damage to the pons, a specific part of the stem involved in relaying nerve signals to the spine. When it gets damaged, these signals do not reach their destination, so even though your brain is screaming at your muscles to move, they never get the message.
The Prognosis of Locked-In Syndrome
Locked-in syndrome is not only the most severe form of paralysis, but it rarely has a cure. Most patients who develop locked-in syndrome never make a meaningful recovery. In a best-case scenario, he or she may regain limited movement in the extremities, but he or she will always require 24-hour care and need assistance with all daily living activities.
Treatments for locked-in syndrome focus on adaptation, not on recovery. Ideally, the patient can learn to communicate with caregivers and loved ones via eye movement patterns. Those who succeed report surprisingly high quality of life metrics.
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