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The brain stem is one of the most important parts of the brain that plays vital roles in basic attention, arousal and consciousness. “It forms the path through which all information from all parts of the body on the way to and from the brain and is located within the bony protrusions that make it vulnerable to damage during trauma” (Fiona & Spar, 2006). According to Fiona & Spar (2006), it consists of “medulla- which contains various nuclei (most of which are vital for life, including those controlling cardiac function and respiration) as well as a profusion of ascending and descending nerve pathways.”
From the discussion on the vital roles played by brain stem, it can be discerned that a small damage on some parts may have fatal consequences. If the brain is cut above the position of the medulla, normal body functioning such as heart beat and normal breathing may be maintained. Damage that directly affects the medulla is inevitably fatal because of the critical roles it plays in balancing osmotic body functions.
A mild brain stem injury, commonly refereed to as a “concussion may lead to temporary malfunctioning of the brain system such as brief loss of consciousness, sudden memory loss, and focal neurological deficits” (Fiona & Spar, 2006). In cases where the symptoms of brain stem damage are not immediately recognized, the victim may be look normal on the surface but may develop serious complications later. Moderate brain damage is characterized by “confusion that persists for weeks, state of consciousness that may run for hours and cognitive and behavioral impairments that may run for months” (Fiona & Spar, 2006).The most devastating form of brain stem damage is the severe brain stem injury that may lead to fatal consequences. According to Fiona & Spar (2006), “severe brain stem injuries are classified by a major limitation in mental functioning, prolonged state of unconsciousness or coma, persistent vegetative state, or minimally responsive state.”
In addition to the above, brain stem damage may lead to a number of devastating signs and symptoms that may have long time consequences on the entire life time of the victim. These are demonstrated by Strauer, Schannwell and Brehmm (2009) to include “abnormalities in the function of cranial nerves which may lead to visual disturbances, pupil abnormalities, changes in sensation, muscle weakness, hearing problems, vertigo, swallowing and speech difficulty, voice change, and co-ordination problems.”
The receipt of timely treatment for brain stem damage is vital to a patient’s recovery. Approaches that have been used within the medical circles to rectify brain stem damage depend primarily on the extent of the damage. “The necessary treatment for a brain stem injury may include medication, surgery, diagnostic testing and rehabilitation while in more serious cases; a comprehensive team of care providers is usually required” (Fiona & Spar, 2006). This calls for an immediate response to provide treatment for a victim because there is a possibility that victims may fully recover and resume normal lives. However, because of the fact that brain stem injuries may be as result of intentional and unintentional human actions, it is best to seek a brain stem injury attorney for further instructions.
The ability to arrive at a perfect solution to most medical problems has been a challenge in medical fields and brain stem injury total treatment has not been fully achieved. This has attracted concerted research efforts on both stem cell behavior and transplantation combined with a deeper understanding of the complications may open up the doors to alleviating the suffering on the victims.
Fiona, M. and Spar, D. (2006). Bit Player or Powerhouse? China and Stem-Cell Research, New England Journal of Medicine. Vol.13. No. 4. 145-69.
Strauer, B. E. Schannwell, C. M. and Brehm, M. (2009). Therapeutic potentials of stem cells in cardiac diseases. Journal of Minerva Cardioangio. Vol. 57. No. 2: 249–67.