The brain is the powerhouse of the human body. Similarly, the brain stem also plays a critical role in the body, as it helps control many of the bodily functions that allow you to live a normal life. 

When the brain stem suffers an injury, it can take a toll on your life, resulting in long-lasting effects on your health and ability to live as you once did. 

Understanding Brain Stem Injuries

The brain stem is located at the base of the skull, at the top of the spinal cord. It connects the brain and spinal cord, which send neural signals throughout the body. These signals are crucial for nearly everything the body does, from breathing to walking.

This vital part of the body is separated into three sections, each responsible for different bodily functions:

  • Midbrain: Located at the top of the brain stem, the midbrain is primarily responsible for muscle movement
  • Pons: Located below the midbrain, the pons controls many things, including balance
  • Medulla: The medulla, located at the very bottom, is in charge of some of the most significant life functions, like heart rate and breathing. 

When the brain stem suffers an injury, many of the most important and basic human functions can be severely impacted. Depending on the type and severity of the injury, the brain stem may be responsive to treatment, but in the worst cases, this harm can result in permanent consequences, including death. 

What Can Cause a Brain Stem Injury?

Brain stem injuries usually arise from some sort of trauma. The most common incidents that may cause a brain stem injury include but are not limited to:

If a party’s negligence causes a brain stem injury, that party could face liability for their actions. If you or a loved one suffer a brain stem injury, it’s imperative you seek legal help to determine whether you have a valid personal injury claim. 

Long-Term Effects of Brain Stem Injuries

Brain stem injuries can potentially affect a victim’s life for the long term, if not for life. Some of the most substantial effects of brain stem injuries are as follows:

Locked-In Syndrome

Locked-in syndrome is as scary and traumatizing for a victim as it is for their loved ones. When you suffer from this syndrome, your entire body is paralyzed, except for the eyes. 

The syndrome is solely a motor issue. You’re unable to move and communicate while still being able to think and hear everything clearly. A majority of victims never fully recover, requiring lifelong medical care. 


The reticular activating system is responsible for your ability to wake up and your state of consciousness. Injury to the brain stem can result in a comatose state. Many victims regain consciousness after swelling in the brain subsides. However, in the most severe cases, victims never wake up from a coma. 

Respiratory Issues

The medulla is responsible for breathing. It helps you oxygenate by sensing the levels of carbon dioxide in the blood and adjusting your breathing in response. 

When the brain stem suffers an injury, the medulla may lose the ability to detect carbon dioxide effectively, affecting the respiratory rate. 

Issues with Swallowing

Along with regulating breathing, the medulla controls swallowing. Injury to the brain stem can affect your ability to swallow properly, resulting in conditions such as dysphagia. Brain stem injury also affects reflexes, like the gag reflex, leaving victims at risk of choking on their own saliva. Treatment and therapy may correct swallowing issues. 

Seeking Justice for a Brain Stem Injury

If you or a loved one suffer a brain injury at the hands of another, you may have the opportunity to seek justice and compensation. A personal injury attorney can help you navigate your claim and achieve the fairest possible outcome. 

For more information, please contact the personal injury lawyers at Hawk Law Group at our nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.
We serve throughout the Central Savannah River Area and its surrounding areas:

Hawk Law Group – Augusta, GA
338 Telfair St, Augusta, GA 30901, United States
(706) 722 3500

Hawk Law Group – Evans, GA
4384 River Watch Pkwy, Evans, GA 30809, United States
(706) 863 6500

Hawk Law Group – Thomson, GA
146 Railroad St A, Thomson, GA 30824, United States
(706) 361 0350

Hawk Law Group – Waynesboro, GA
827 Liberty St, Waynesboro, GA 30830, United States
(706) 437 9122

Hawk Law Group – Aiken County, SC
156 Laurens St NW, Aiken, SC 29801, United States
(803) 226 9089

We also serve in Edgefield County, SC.