All Posts Tagged: Brain Injury

Janie Padilla

Janie’s road to recovery wasn’t easy after a severe reaction to general anesthesia during an elective surgery.

At 50-years-old, Janie Padilla described her life as perfect. While raising her three children in Evans, CO, she enjoyed crocheting and designing cups. She also enjoyed attending classic car shows with her husband of 18 years.

This all came to a halt after Janie underwent elective carpal tunnel surgery. Due to a severe reaction to the general anesthesia, she went into cardiac arrest. Janie then faced acute hypoxic respiratory failure requiring a ventilator, acute metabolic encephalopathy, and an anoxic brain injury.

Knowing Janie would require continued care, her physicians recommended Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital. Unable to decide due to her condition, Janie’s family chose to have her transferred immediately. Now closer to home, she started on the road to recovery.

Janie spent over a month at NCLTAH. The staff impressed her with the care and support she received. “The nurses were great! They paid attention to my needs and I could tell they loved their jobs! The physicians were polite and checked on me a lot. All the staff was very attentive to my needs,” she explained.

After seeing some progress, Janie transferred to Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital. There, Janie continues working on building up her strength and endurance so she can return home. Being a mom is everything to her so she can’t wait to be back with her family.

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Katharine England

Katharine England’s life on the ranch changed suddenly when she experienced a serious and complex medical event.

Katharine England, 65, lives on a ranch in Kersey, CO where she loves to spend time with her husband and son. She has a passion for animals and enjoys tending after her ponies, dogs, chickens, and cats. She even looks after her neighbors’ donkey and hopes to add one to her family someday. When she’s not with her family or looking after the animals, Katharine works full-time for a construction company. 

Katharine’s daily life changed suddenly one January day when her family found her on the floor. They rushed her to the emergency department where she was diagnosed with a ruptured anterior communicating aneurysm. She underwent double coiling of the aneurysm and had a subarachnoid hemorrhage. Katharine also suffered acute hypoxic respiratory failure, requiring a tracheostomy. 

After a recommendation from the hospital, Katharine’s family decided to transfer her to Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital. She was excited to start her recovery with such an experienced and supportive staff.  

“The doctors have been great about answering all my questions, and the nurses have been so patient educating me about the medications I receive,” Katharine said. 

Katharine then transitioned to Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital to focus on gaining her strength back. “My recovery has been influenced by my end goal of getting home to my animals and family.”

Katharine is excited to get back to her ranch and ultimately get back to work. She is also hoping to finally get the donkey she always wanted. She thanks everyone for the support they have given her during this difficult time and looks forward to continuing on her road to recovery. 

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A Heart Attack’s Effect on the Brain

It’s estimated that someone suffers a heart attack approximately every 40 seconds in the United States – or about 720,000 people each year. While many heart attack victims recover and resume their normal lives, others have to deal with lingering physical effects, such as changes in the brain.

Specifically, heart attacks and other forms of heart failure can cause a loss of gray matter in the brain, and a decline in mental processes.

What Happens During a Heart Attack

A heart attack occurs when blood that brings oxygen to the heart is cut off, or severely reduced. Coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart can narrow because of fat buildup and other substances. When an artery breaks, a clot forms around the substance and blood flow is restricted to the heart muscle.

Oxygen and the Brain

The brain needs adequate oxygen to function normally. Research has shown that brain cells begin to die when oxygen levels drop significantly low for several minutes or longer. After an extended period, a permanent brain injury may occur. This type of injury is known as an anoxic brain injury, or also cerebral hypoxia.

There are four types of anoxia – with each potentially leading to brain damage – including stagnant anoxia, in which an internal condition (such as a heart attack) blocks oxygen-rich blood from reaching the brain.

Cognitive Issues Associated with Heart Attacks

A recent study by Sweden’s Lund University said that half of all heart attack survivors experience memory loss, attention problems, and other cognitive issues. Lasting effects on the brain’s mental functions could even lead to possible dementia.

Brain scans done in similar studies showed that heart disease and heart failure might lead to losses of gray matter in the brain that are important for a variety of cognitive functions, which in turn lead to issues such as:

  • Memory Loss
    Most people who suffer an anoxic brain injury experience some short-term memory loss. The hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for learning new information, is extremely sensitive to a lack of oxygen.
  • Anomia
    Anomia refers to difficulty in using words, or processing the meaning of words. The patient may not remember the right word, or use a word out of context.
  • Poor Performance in Executive Functions
    Executive functions include reasoning, processing information, judgment, etc. For instance, the patient may become impulsive and indecisive.
  • Visual Issues
    Patients also may have trouble processing visual information.

Treatment

Immediate treatment is essential when dealing with cerebral hypoxia. The sooner the normal oxygen supply is restored to the brain, the lower the risk of brain damage. The type of treatment depends on the cause of the anoxic injury and may include:

  • Breathing assistance via mechanical ventilation and oxygen.
  • Controlling the heart rate and rhythm.
  • The use of medicines such as phenytoin, phenobarbital, valproic acid, or general anesthetics.

The patient’s recovery depends on how long the brain lacked oxygen. The patient might have a full return to function if the oxygen supply to the brain was blocked only for a short time. The longer a person lacks this oxygen supply, the higher the risk for serious consequences, including death, and severe brain injury.

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