According to the CDC, drowning is a leading cause of death in children aged 1 to 14. It is extremely dangerous as it deprives the entire brain of necessary oxygen. Often, this deprivation leads to the death of brain cells or the death of the drowning victim. In fact, brain cells begin to die within five minutes of oxygen deprivation. The parts of the brain that are most often affected are the parts that control memory, speech, and movement. That is why survivors of drowning usually suffer from deficits in memory, speech, and movement. The brain injury they experience is called anoxic brain injury or ABI.
This type of brain injury involves a temporary loss of blood supply to the brain. This is the most devastating type of brain injury and is usually seen after drowning, cardiac arrest, or birth injury. With an anoxic brain injury, all areas of the brain can be affected. However, the combination and severity is affected by a few factors.
- How long the patient is without oxygen
- How long it takes to restore normal circulation
- The adequacy of CPR
- The patient’s age
- Any pre-existing neurological or systemic diseases
- Selectively vulnerable areas of the brain
- Individual peculiarities of brain circulation and anatomy