Looking For Coma Information? If A Serious Brain Injury Has Affected Your Loved One, Our New York Brain Injury Attorneys Can Help Shed Light On The Situation.
When a traumatic brain injury is severe—whether due to a car crash, slip and fall, or lack of oxygen to the brain—the victim can lapse into a coma. Too often, people in a coma-like state are misdiagnosed by medical professionals as to their real level of conscious awareness. If your spouse or other family member has an impaired level of consciousness following a negligence-related brain injury for qualified legal help.
What is a Coma?
A coma is a prolonged state of unconsciousness in which a person’s eyes remain closed. Although the individual may appear to be sleeping, the brain of a comatose patient doesn’t exhibit the normal activity associated with sleep. What’s more, unlike a sleeping person, a coma patient cannot be awakened. In fact, they are totally unresponsive to external stimuli, such as voices, light, and touch. Not even pain will rouse them.
Since nerve cells can regenerate, a coma may resolve itself within one to two weeks after a severe traumatic brain injury. How quickly a person emerges from a coma depends on how his/her brain injury was caused and its severity. Generally, a patient who lapsed into a coma after a head injury will have a more promising outlook than one who became comatose following a heart attack. And younger patients usually fare better than older individuals.
A patient may remain comatose if enough damage was sustained in an area of the brain responsible for wakefulness (such as the brain stem).
Other States of Unconsciousness
In addition to coma, there are several other states of unconsciousness that can result from a traumatic brain injury.
Brain death: Brain death is when all brain activity stops. It is irreversible, and typically the result of a severe or widespread injury to the brain.
Vegetative state: Like a coma, a person in a vegetative state doesn’t respond to voices, smell, or touch or appear to comprehend language. But unlike a comatose individual, someone in a vegetative state does open their eyes, may make noises, and can go through a normal sleep/wake cycle. A vegetative state lasting more than 30 days is called a persistent vegetative state. If the patient remains in this condition for at least 12 months after a brain injury, their chances of recovery are very slim.
Minimally conscious state: A person will often progress from the vegetative state to a low level of consciousness as they recover from TBI. A minimally conscious patient shows definite signs that they’re aware of themselves and their environment. They may respond to simple commands or show emotional responses to external stimuli—such as the voice of a loved one.
Locked-in syndrome: Patients with this condition are awake and aware of what’s going on around them. However, due to complete paralysis of their body, they cannot move or communicate.
Determining State of Consciousness
In recent years, new imaging techniques have emerged to help doctors determine what state of consciousness a brain-damaged person is in. These include functional MRI (fMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET). If you or a family member has suffered a brain injury, having a qualified team of clinicians can help ensure accurate testing, which in turn leads to the most appropriate and humane treatment plan.
By the same token, having a brain injury-savvy attorney on your side is vital to making sure you’re properly compensated for your suffering and loss.
Our Brain Injury Experience
With over 35 years of practice in personal injury law, the attorneys at De Caro & Kaplen, LLP are widely regarded for their skilled representation of traumatic brain injury victims. If you’re dealing with a brain injury resulting from the wrongdoing of others, you and your family deserve proper compensation. Talk to us today to learn your legal options. Consultations are always free, and we’re eager to hear about your case.