The human body system is created so that it cannot survive for long without air. It takes in and out air with the help of a network of organs that makes up the human respiratory system which includes but is not limited to the lungs, nose, mouth, trachea, larynx, pharynx, bronchioles. Any irregularity or malfunction in one or more of these organs can lead to airway obstruction, whether temporarily or permanently, causing difficulty breathing, vomiting, suffocation, brain damage, heart attack, and even death.
Common Causes of Airway Obstruction
A couple of factors can cause airway obstruction. Some of which includes;
- Infections and diseases
Infections occur due to bacteria or viruses in the body. The outcome of such bacteria and viruses leads to disease, causing illness. According to an article by WHO, infections in the respiratory system can cause airway obstruction leading to conditions like croup, chronic bronchitis, swelling of the tongue or epiglottis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary hypertension, etc.
The American Psychological Association (APA), in an article, defined trauma as “an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape, or natural disaster.” In the case of trauma causing airway obstruction or respiratory trauma injuries, this refers to injuries caused by physical or emotional events that damage some of the network or organs involved in the breathing process. Trauma can lead to respiratory diseases that cause airway obstruction like collapsed or ruptured lungs, hemothorax, etc.
- Allergic reactions
Allergic reactions, as touching the respiratory system, occur when the body’s immune system reacts to a foreign object which is in itself harmless, causing symptoms of airway obstruction like choking, difficulty breathing, etc. They are peculiar to individuals and families and can result from food items like nuts.
- Swallowing or inhaling a foreign object or chemicals
Chemicals like paints, sprays, phosgene, nitrogen dioxide, etc., used in the workplace and at home can cause airway obstruction. They can easily irritate the lungs causing shortness of breath. Solid objects like bones, food, etc., can also cause choking and block off the airway.
- Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice refers to any act or omission by a physician, whether negligently or not, during the treatment of a patient that deviates from recognized medical practice and results in the patient’s injury. In the case of medical malpractice leading to airway obstruction, it could be a result of improper procedure carried out by a medical practitioner leading to an infection or physical damage to any organ of the respiratory system. Examples of medical malpractice cases resulting in airway obstruction can be seen in the cases of Smith v. Cotter, DiFelice v. Aetna US Healthcare, IN RE MEDICAL REVIEW PANEL OF JULIA COLAR CASTLE.
Illustrating Airway Blockage/ Obstruction To A Layman With Medical Animation
Medical animation has been used over the years to illustrate complex medical terms, procedures, and events to a layman, and it’s no different in the case of airway obstruction. It can be used as a teaching aid in the classroom, and it can also be used in the court of law as litigation animation.
In the case of airway blockage resulting from medical malpractice, an attorney can opt to use medical animation as a form of litigation animation to showcase how a procedure performed by the medical expert led to an airway blockage in the victim. If the airway blockage is caused by an infection arising from a medical procedure, litigation animation can clearly illustrate the affected area to the jury. It can also be used to illustrate the spread and progression of the infection causing the obstruction in the victim’s airway.
Suppose the airway blockage is a personal injury case; in that case, an attorney can also use medical animation as a form of litigation animation to illustrate injury caused to the victim as a result of the actions of another party.
For example, if a victim swallows a harmful object while eating food, causing a scratch in the throat leading to airway obstruction. In that case, medical animation can illustrate such an event to the jury from the point where the object is swallowed to it causing a scratch in the throat and ultimately the airway obstruction.
Hence, whatever the cause of airway obstruction to a victim is, medical animation can be used to illustrate such events comprehensively to a layman.