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What is a brain stem injury?

Home > FAQ > What is a brain stem injury?

The brain stem connects the brain to the spinal column.  Damage to the brain stem due to injury or disease may cause temporary or permanent impairment, coma or death.

Brain Stem Function

The brain stem controls:

  • Consciousness
  • Nerve impulses from the brain to the muscle groups
  • Breathing
  • Heart rate
  • Eye movement
  • Facial movement
  • Swallowing

Any of these functions may be damaged when the brain stem is injured.

Causes of Brain Stem Injury:

  • Whiplash – A violent movement of the head and neck back and forth, most commonly occurring as the result of a rear-end motor vehicle collision.
  • Trauma – A blow to the back of the head or neck due to a fall, assault, motor vehicle accident, or sports injury.
  • Stroke – Brain damage due to a lack of oxygen from decreased blood flow or artery rupture in the brain.
  • Degenerative Disease – Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Meningitis

Brain Stem Injury Statistics:

  • Over 1.5 million Americans suffer a form of brain stem injury each year.
  • At least 2 million Americans are presently disabled in some manner as a result of a brain stem injury.
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