Why Is a Coma a Catastrophic Injury?

A coma is one of the scariest injuries you or a loved one can suffer. Medically speaking, a coma is prolonged unconsciousness, where a person does not respond to stimulation.

People fall into comas for various reasons, most of which center around the function of their brain. Injuries to the brain, stroke, and infections can all lead to comas, as can underlying illnesses and a drug or alcohol overdose. Comas can be medically induced in an effort to save the patient.

The effects of a coma

The effects of a coma differ from patient to patient. What makes them so frightening is that after all this time, we still don’t know much about them. We don’t know if a person who goes into a coma will wake up, or if he or she will enter a vegetative state.

It depends on a few factors from the patient’s individual life. For starters, the lasting effects a coma can have on a patient can be based on the health of the patient prior to entering into the coma, and how it occurred.

For example, if the coma was caused by a traumatic brain injury, a seizure, a stroke, or an infection in the spine, it’s likely that the coma will have a lasting impact on the patient. It might take the patient months to more than a year to recover from their injuries. He or she might not regain the full function of some areas of his or her body, or develop some kind of disability.

Patients who were in a coma for an extended period, passing into a vegetative state, will require extensive medical care for the rest of their life. They may require feeding tubes and catheters, and 24-hour care. The chance of recovering full consciousness after a vegetative state is about 50%, but even then, the patient is likely to have considerable disabilities and medical needs.

How comas are graded

The Glasgow Coma Scale is used by doctors across the globe to assign grades od severity to comas:

  • Verbal responses: 1 to 5 scale, with 5 being normal
  • Motor responses: 1 to 6 scale, with 6 being normal
  • Eye opening: 1 to 4 scale, with 4 being normal eye movements

The higher the score on each scale is, the less catastrophic or traumatic the coma is for the patient. This means that there is a higher likelihood that the patient will wake from the coma. Close to 87 percent of patients who are assigned an 11-grade on their coma will wake from it and recover, while 87 percent of those assigned a four or lower will stay in a vegetative state.

Suffering an injury serious enough to force you into a coma can change your life in an instant. You could require extensive therapy to learn how to walk, talk, or feed yourself again. You might also suffer paralysis. It’s important that you speak to an experienced personal injury attorney from Merkel & Cocke, PA in Mississippi about the injuries that led to your loved one’s coma. Call us today at 662-627-9641 or complete the contact form on our website to schedule a consultation. We operate offices in Clarksdale, Jackson, and Oxford to better serve our clients.