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 minimally conscious. 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 or minimally conscious state and cannot fully function at a decent level unless they attend physical therapy.
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 is asleep and unaware; however, they are still alive but lie with their eyes closed. A head injury diagnosis and a coma lasting longer than a few weeks are rare.
When experiencing this, head trauma patients continue to be utterly unresponsive and may struggle to generate a breath. Research shows they are immobile, do not react to sound or light, 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 or even question their mother, father, daughter, or son.
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, smiling at nothing, having an altered appearance, or even causing a scene.
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. One could review their ability to hold themselves up if they sat up. These vegetative functions cause suffering; you are in the room hear 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 vegetative state patients hear you? Yes. This is documented as authentic in some cases. But generally, most patients can move parts of their upper or lower bodies during a vegetative state. Sometimes these are involuntary movements, however. 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.
A severe injury affects levels of awareness and standard 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 discomfort or pain following a non-traumatic brain injury.
People’s 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 normal behavior.
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 and bedsores and a healthy, balanced nutrition program.
Some doctors believe this helps such patients fight unresponsive wakefulness syndrome as well. Therapy and sensory stimulation can also be painful stimuli 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 for recovering sensory regulation, health, and basic reflexes (expected chances to recover fully) after suffering a coma? The outcome of 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 permanent unconsciousness.
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 a personal experience, so you know we play our part! Call our kind, professional, experienced lawyers today for a free case evaluation or more information about how we help coma victims in California courts.
Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer in the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his J.D. from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements.