Many brain injuries that result in a coma originate at or around the brain stem. A coma is a prolonged state of unconsciousness, sometimes caused by brain injuries. A person in a coma lacks any awareness of their environment and cannot respond in any way. While someone is in a coma, they need around-the-clock care to monitor their state of consciousness and prepare for recovery. Coma complications can arise during the recovery process and need to be carefully managed. If someone you know has suffered a coma injury, it may be beneficial to consult with a coma injury attorney.

recovery from a coma

Uncertainty surrounding recovery from a coma is not uncommon. Our team at GJEL Accident Attorneys prepared this guide to explain brain injury complications associated with a coma and address other common questions. If you or a loved one fell into a coma after a brain injury, contact our office today to discuss your claim.

What Kind of Injuries Result in a Coma?

In some cases, a coma is caused by a traumatic brain injury (TBI). One common cause of a coma after a brain injury is a lack of oxygen to the brain, also called brain hypoxia. Without oxygen, brain cells start to deteriorate very quickly. A person’s brain can start to lose oxygen when they lose consciousness while drowning or choking.

Additionally, a coma is a common side effect of a diffuse axonal brain injury. A diffuse axonal injury is an injury that involves the tearing of the brain’s connective nerve fibers (called axons) that happens when the brain shifts and rotates in the skull. Other underlying reasons for a coma can include kidney failure, liver illness, diabetes, and poisoning.

Blunt-force trauma to the head can also lead to a coma in patients. Trauma typically causes the brain to swell inside the skull, eventually putting pressure on the brain stem. It can also cause bleeding inside and around the brain, which may result in a coma.

What Part of the Brain Stem Is Damaged in a Coma?

Staying conscious requires your cerebral hemispheres to communicate with the reticular activating system (RAS) within the brain stem. When either of these areas sustains damage, the lack of communication can result in losing consciousness.

If you or a loved one suffered brain damage and subsequently fell into a coma, contact an attorney today to discuss your case.

 What Are the 8 Stages of Coma Recovery?

There are many ways to track recovery from a coma or severe brain injury. One tool is the Rancho Los Amigos’ Levels of Cognitive Functioning Scale (Ranchos Scale), which measures the improvement of the brain injury victim in eight stages.

  • Level I: The patient is in a coma and does not respond to sounds, touch, sight, or movement.

  • Level II: The patient is in a semi-comatose state. The patient can respond to sounds, touch, sight, or movement, showing early responses such as inconsistent and delayed reactions. The person may start making sounds, wiggling their fingers, opening their eyes, and swallowing on their own.

  • Level III: The patient starts acting more alert and aware of their surroundings. Additionally, they will likely respond to touch, sounds, or simple commands, showing that the patient responds to stimuli. The person may begin recognizing close friends and family members. Some patients may enter a minimally conscious state, where they show limited signs of awareness and response to stimulation. This stage often lasts longer than the first two stages and can involve several setbacks.

  • Level IV: The person starts questioning why they are hospitalized and may attempt to leave or disconnect themselves from medical equipment. The patient’s confusion may lead them to become unexpectedly hostile and combative with medical professionals or friends and family.

  • Level V: The patient is less combative and angry in this stage. The person can follow most simple commands but lacks the attention span to perform tasks. In many cases, the patient will have better long-term memory than short-term memory. In this stage, the patient may be in denial about their injury or new physical and mental limitations.

  • Level VI: The injured victim’s behavior is more appropriate at this stage. Their memory and attention span return, although some details may slip through the cracks. The patient may occasionally struggle to find the right words to describe their feelings.

  • Level VII: The person can perform most daily activities without assistance but may struggle with critical thinking and concentration. They will thrive in a routine but may get upset when something out of the ordinary happens. The patient can start reintegrating into school or work in small increments.

  • Level VIII: The TBI victim engages in purposeful everyday living. They can typically recover much of their long and short-term memory. In most cases, the person can live life without supervision and function as a member of society.

Contact GJEL today with questions about the Ranchos Scale.

What Is the Difference Between a Coma and Brain Death?

While in a coma, the patient cannot speak, open their eyes, or respond to sights or sounds. However, their brain still registers activity. Patients in a coma usually wake up within a few days or a few weeks. On the other hand, brain death means that all function of the brain has stopped permanently. The California brain death law says that a person who suffers “either (1) irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions, or (2) irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem, is dead.”

Questions About Recovery From a Coma After a Traumatic Brain Injury? Contact GJEL Accident Attorneys Today

Falling into a coma due to a severe brain injury can completely throw your life off track. If another person’s negligence or wrongful act caused your brain injury, they might be liable for your financial losses. Our brain injury lawyers at GJEL specialize in helping TBI victims recover compensation to reimburse them for the costs of their injuries. We have recovered over $950,000,000 on behalf of our injured clients since GJEL’s founding in 1971.

We know the tactics insurance companies use to bully brain injury victims into settlements worth significantly less than their losses. We will not hesitate to take your case to trial if the opposing party does not offer a settlement that covers all of your losses.

If you or a loved one fell into a coma after a brain injury, contact our office today to discuss your claim. We offer free initial consultations, so do not hesitate to contact our office at 866-249-2142 or online.

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