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Cognitive functioning of adult survivors of cerebral hypoxia.
Wilson, B.A.
Brain Injury, 10, 863-874
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What should clinical neuropsychologists look out for when asked to assess someone with hypoxic brain damage? To determine whether there are typical cognitive profiles of hypoxic patients, all referrals for a neuropsychological assessment made to the author over a period of 16 years were scanned to identify those with a primary diagnosis of cerebral hypoxia as recorded in the hospital notes. From a total sample of 567 patients, 18 (3.17%) had sustained primary cerebral hypoxia from a variety of causes including carbon monoxide poisoning, cardiac arrest, anaesthetic accident, respiratory failure following a pulmonary embolus, hanging and drowning. Not surprisingly in view of the different degrees of brain damage, the cognitive functioning of the 18 patients was variable, with the greatest number showing deficits of memory and executive functioning (N = 6). Three presented with an amnesic syndrome, two with memory, executive and visuospatial deficits, and three with visuospatial or visuoperceptual problems without severe memory impairments. The remaining four patients were very severely impaired intellectually (VSI), with widespread cognitive deficits precluding the use of neuropsychological assessment procedures designed for adults.