Not All Comas Are the Same: Understanding Type and Severity

With the official start of spring, your husband made his annual trek up the ladder to clean windows and clear gutters. He has been doing this for years and you never really worry about it, so you were shocked when you heard a loud snap and saw your husband fall through a broken ladder rung. With horror, you watched his body come crashing down from the roof.

He was bleeding from a head wound and unconscious when you got to him. You called 911 and rode to the hospital with him. In the ER, they cleaned and stitched up the wound but he remained unconscious. The next day he was still unconscious and the doctor explained that at it would take several more tests to pinpoint the degree of brain damage and evaluate the type of coma he was in.

Levels of Consciousness During a Coma

The most basic definition of a coma is a prolonged state of unconsciousness caused by a neurological disruption that prevents a person from responding to stimuli. Although the period of unconsciousness isn’t specified, when physicians refer to comas the victims are generally unconscious for a period exceeding 12 hours. In addition, comas do not have a set timeframe for when the victim may become conscious. Some comas last only a few hours, while others can be permanent.

According to the Mayo Clinic, comas seldom last longer than a few weeks as the brain works to repair itself. However, if the brain is profoundly damaged, they can last much longer. During the unconscious period, there are three specific types of comas which the victim could be experiencing: a vegetative state, Locked-in syndrome, or complete brain death.

  • Vegetative state. In this type of coma, victims are completely unaware of their surroundings and cannot communicate or move. The damage done to the brain isn’t complete and in can still control basic functions such as breathing, blood circulation, and organ functions.
  • Locked-in syndrome. This extremely rare type of coma is when the victim is technically conscious and maintains the ability to think, reason and open his eyes, but is unable to speak, move, or communicate.
  • Brain death. When the brain has suffered too much trauma to function, it can completely shut down. When this happens, cognitive function is lost, bodily functions can only continue with help from machines, and the coma will be permanent.

Help and Support for Brain-Injured Coma Patients

Any type of brain injury, whether it results in a coma or not, can be extremely expensive to treat and recovery can be a lifelong process. This is why we fight for those who can’t by getting them the compensation their accidents deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation about whether you or a loved one is entitled to damages for a traumatic brain injury.

Did you find this article useful? Let us know by showing your support and liking us on Facebook, or follow us on Google+ for periodic updates and advice about brain injury claims.