Understanding different types of comas

| May 23, 2019 | Brain Injuries |

The ramifications of a brain injury can severely impact the life of a person in Metairie. After sustaining a head trauma, a person may enter a state of unconsciousness known as a coma. Comas vary in their severity, and unfortunately some people never emerge from one. WebMD explains the different types of comas that exist and their levels of severity.

In some instances, a head trauma may deprive the brain of oxygen for a few minutes, which can result in a coma. This condition is known as an anoxic brain injury. When the brain loses access to oxygen, brain tissues start experiencing cell death and can result in serious disability, persistent coma or even death. This type of injury can also result from a heart attack, poison, or a drug overdose.

Some brain injuries put a person into a persistent vegetative state, where a patient has no awareness of surroundings at all and cannot make independent movements. Someone in a vegetative state may breathe, have regular cycles of sleep and being awake, and also maintain circulation. However, even if the patient is awake, there is no higher brain activity to generate consciousness.

Sometimes doctors will have to induce a coma on purpose. In some instances of brain injury, a patient may be at risk for deadly brain swelling. To prevent this from happening, doctors may administer an anesthetic that puts the patient into a medically induced coma. The patient is carefully monitored in an intensive care unit for signs of recovery. 

Brain death involves the termination of all brain function. In this scenario, the brain will have likely sustained widespread or permanent injury, with no chance of healing or treatment to reverse the damage. The How Stuff Works website explains that by this point, the patient is no longer in a coma and has no chance of recovery. Even progressing into a deep coma is not considered possible.

Depending on the nature and severity of a brain injury, it is possible to recover from a coma that may result, though a long period of recovery will likely be necessary, and some people never regain full motor function after awakening from a coma. The medical expenses for treatment and recovery are usually factored into any compensation a person may receive if they can receive damages from a party who caused the injury in the first place.