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The Connection Between Near-Drownings and Traumatic Brain Injuries

The tragic deaths of four Illinois children not only places a spotlight on swimming fatalities, but also the serious injuries that can occur from swimming pool incidents. Every day, approximately 10 people die from drowning incidents, but experts estimate that the instances of near-drowning are significantly higher. For each fatal drowning incident, four additional hospitalizations reportedly occur, along with 14 additional visits to the emergency room. It only takes three minutes of submersion for a victim to lose consciousness and the brain begins to suffer from loss of oxygen at the five minute mark.

Traumatic brain injuries often occur as the result of a blunt force impact to the head. In a swimming accident, this can occur if the head is hit on a diving board or floor of the pool. However, brain injuries can also occur when there is a loss of oxygen or blood to the brain, which commonly occurs in near-drownings. These types of injuries include:

Brain Hypoxia – This occurs when oxygen to the brain decreases, even though the blood flow remains constant. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, brain cells begin dying within minutes of oxygen flow loss. Symptoms of mild hypoxia include memory loss, poor judgment or decreased motor functioning. The only treatment for the condition is to return the oxygen to the brain. If the condition continues for an extended period of time, coma or brain death is possible.

Brain Ischemia – Occurs when blood flow to the brain is insufficient. Symptoms include seizures and swelling of the brain. If the condition lasts for a brief period, recovery is possible. If the condition is prolonged, it can result in coma or death.

Central Nervous System Infections – When a person experiences a near-drowning, they take an excessive amount of water. Waterborne organisms can get into the lungs and travel throughout the body, eventually reaching the brain. Symptoms include vomiting and seizures, but they may not show up until one to three weeks following the near-drowning. According to the Livestrong article, brain injury and death are common once these organisms reach the brain.

The Question of Liability

Surviving a drowning can result in a lifetime of permanent brain injuries that affect cognitive development, physical movement and communication skills. The victim may need permanent medical attention, resulting in significant challenges to the entire family, as well as your financial resources. When this occurs, financial compensation may be appropriate from a responsible party. Examples of such parties may include:

-Lifeguards who do not act properly to promote safety or inadequately respond to a drowning emergency

-Facility owners or staff who are negligent in securing the safety of an on-site pool.
Homeowners who do not properly ensure the safety and security of their pools.
In the case of child-centered accidents, responsible parties who fail to adequately supervise.

-Homeowners who do not properly ensure the safety and security of their pools.
In the case of child-centered accidents, responsible parties who fail to adequately supervise
-In the case of child-centered accidents, responsible parties who fail to adequately supervise

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