• Difference Between Persistent Vegetative State and a Coma?

    Difference Between
    Persistent Vegetative
    State and a Coma?

    The USA Personal Injury Blog. Brain Injury Attorney Providing Brain Injury Health News

  • Difference Between Persistent Vegetative State and a Coma?

    Difference Between Persistent Vegetative State and a Coma?

    Brain Injury Health News

Posted on Brain Injury Blog / Blog / Los Angeles Brain Injury Attorney / Difference Between Persistent Vegetative State and a Coma?


Updated: May 27, 2022

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney, Michael P. Ehline Esq.

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The word “coma” is often heard in the news or media and in ordinary speech to refer to a wide range of circumstances in which a person has suffered an injury and is either wholly unconscious or in a minimally conscious state. Generally, this is a vegetative state.

One may assume people to be in a coma after years; however, this is rare. They are most likely in a vegetative state or minimally conscious state and cannot fully function at a decent level unless they attend physical therapy.

Comas and the State of Unconsciousness

  • Comas and Brain Death
  • Coma and Persistent Vegetative State
  • Everything You Need to Know
  • Contact Ehline Law Firm Today!

What Is a Coma?

A deep coma is a severe and lengthy state where one may not recover consciousness resulting from injury, sickness, abnormal blood pressure, or poisoning.

The term describes a situation in which a patient looks asleep and unaware; however, they are still alive but lie with their eyes closed. Additionally, a head injury diagnosis coupled with a coma lasting longer than a few weeks typically remains rare.

When experiencing this, head trauma patients continue to be utterly unresponsive and may struggle to generate a breath. Research shows they are immobile, have no reaction to sound or light, and cannot sense pain, and lack normal thinking abilities. Often these extreme cases involve patients who are brain dead, having lost normal brainstem functions.

Extreme trauma causes one’s brain to essentially ‘shut down.’ Experts compare it to holding one under a drug such as general anesthesia. Patients with severe brain injuries and long term brain damage who do not feel this naturally are sometimes put into a medically-induced coma (with anesthetic medicine, such as propofol) to give their body sufficient time to heal and regain normal motor responses after discontinuing life support equipment.

On the other hand, patients might wake up to regain consciousness with minor issues if they have only been in the state for a few days or months. However, if it appears that the patient has significant injuries, they may transition to a permanent vegetative state. They might not recognize others; they may even question their mother, father, daughter, or son is.

Though it appears they might be awake and have reflexes like yawning, grunting, or crying, the awakened person often responds in odd ways, including talking with unrecognizable words, moving the head, or smiling at nothing, having an altered appearance, or even causing a scene.

What Is a Persistent Vegetative State?

Another type of altered consciousness to share is a persistent vegetative state or apallic syndrome. A patient appears to be aware; however, they cannot react significantly to things or achieve effective communication with the outside world.

The person’s eyes might be open, and they may be yawning, groaning, moaning, or making other vocalizations. If they sat up, one could review their ability to hold themselves up. These vegetative functions cause suffering; you are in the room hears every word, even loud noise, but cannot respond. The individual claims to enter a ‘prolonged’ state following a month.

Suppose a vegetative state exists in patients for more than four weeks or several months after harm caused by oxygen deprivation, such as a cardiac arrest, or for one year after an event such as a car accident, assault, or a fall. In that case, the possibility of them regaining brain activity is very low, and one may find them to stay in a “permanent” vegetative state.

Can a Person In a Vegetative State Hear You?

Can vegetative state patients hear you? Most patients can move parts of their upper or lower bodies during a vegetative state, but they are involuntary movements.

Grinding teeth, facial movements such as a smile, and thrashing are all possibilities. Additionally, they may jerk to respond to loud noises or pull a hand away from any painful source, for example. They might make sounds or perhaps speak once in a while; however, this is not in a meaningful way.

What You Need to Know About Traumatic Brain Injury and a Minimally Conscious State

A severe injury affects levels of awareness and normal sleep patterns. Another major problem is whether or not older patients with the disease or illness can suffer from pain. However, several individuals, mainly younger patients, say they are not left in any discomfort or pain following a non-traumatic brain injury.

Peoples’ facial reactions or expressions to painful stimuli or external stimuli can cause anybody to feel that these are symptoms of agony or pain. Various treatments are available for those who remain in this self-aware state.

The medical and health service received in a hospital or doctor depends on the person’s response function, breathing patterns, heart rate, emotions, nutrition, cognitive function, sleep-wake cycles, and whether they exhibit signs of normal behavior.

Will Physical Therapy Help?

We’ve heard stories of auditory manipulation and physical therapy used with patients breaking their coma slumber caused by a traumatic brain injury. The patient’s medical care team will prevent new urinary tract infections and keep the patient physically healthy with physical medicine. Goals include preventing pneumonia, bedsores and a healthy, balanced nutrition program.

Physical therapy is often prescribed to prevent contractures (these are permanent muscular contractions), including bone deformities, joint deformations, and muscles issues limiting physical recovery for patients emerging from a coma.

Some doctors believe this helps such patients fight unresponsive wakefulness syndrome as well. Therapy and sensory stimulation can also be a painful stimulus with no pain response.

Any post-coma unresponsiveness must never be presumed to be pain-free. People recovering consciousness may experience pain with deep brain stimulation and supportive treatment methodologies. Coma is a significant disability.

So what exactly is a coma patient’s prognosis to recover sensory regulation, health, and basic reflexes (expected chances to recover fully) after suffering a coma? The outcome for a coma or persistent vegetative state depends on the unique facts and circumstances of the victim’s severe brain injury.

It comes to what is caused them to fall asleep or maintain only partial consciousness. Even with facial expressions, there is no way to tell if they feel pressure ulcers or if they’ll wake from a state of permanent unconsciousness.

Contact Ehline Law Firm’s Coma Injury Group Today!

If it appears that your family members or loved ones have impaired consciousness after severe brain damage or spinal cord accident, search no more; contact us immediately for support at (213) 596-9642 or visit our site so we can help you receive the necessary compensation for the disease.

Our friendly and charismatic attorneys handle each matter as if it were a personal experience, so you know that we play our part! Call our kind, professional and experienced lawyers today for a free case evaluation or more information about how we help coma victims in California courts.

Ehline Law Firm - Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC
Attorney at Law
Michael P. Ehline Esq.
Downtown Los Angeles Corporate Offices

Downtown Los Angeles Office
633 West 5th Street #2890
Los Angeles, CA 90071

Downtown Los Angeles Office
633 West 5th Street #2890
Los Angeles, CA 90071
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