Coma and Severe Brain Injuries

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When a motorist, a sports player, a person who falls, or another victim of traumatic brain injury is seriously hurt, he or she may end up in a coma. Brain injuries are classified using a system called the Glasgow Coma Scale. Coma and severe brain injuries are one of the worst possible outcomes of an accident.

Historically, traumatic brain injuries were classified as mild, moderate or severe under the Glasgow Coma Scale.

This system was invented in 1974 by Graham Teasdale and Bryan Jennett as a means of communicating the level of consciousness of patients after they suffered an acute brain injury.

The scale is important because its findings related to patient responsiveness may control the level and type of treatment a TBI sufferer will receive.

The Glasgow Coma Scale is divided into three components that characterize coma and severe brain injuries – verbal response, eye opening, and motor responses. These are added together to produce a total score out of 15.

For instance, a Glasgow Coma Scale score of 13-15 is defined as a mild brain injury, 9-12 is moderate, and 3-8 is a severe brain injury.

If a patient only scores 3-8, he or she is considered to be in a coma or an unconscious state. Below 3 a patient may be brain dead.

The Glasgow Coma Scale Related to Serious Brain Injury

Patients who only score 3-8 are considered to have no meaningful response and to be incapable of voluntary activities.

A score of under 3 on the Glasgow Coma Scale is defined as a vegetative state. The patient will retain sleep and wake cycles but there is no interaction with the outside world and no localized response to pain. When there is no discernible brain function, a patient is classified as brain dead.

What is a Coma?

A coma is defined as a prolonged state of unconsciousness. A patient in a coma is unresponsive to his or her environment. The patient is still alive and may appear to be in a deep sleep. However, the patient cannot be woken up by any form of stimulation including pain.

The longer a patient remains in a coma, the more remote his or her chance of recovery become. Patients who come out of a coma often do so in a matter of hours.

By the third day in a coma, the chance of the patient making a moderate or good recovery is reduced to just 7 percent and by the 14th day is as low as 2 percent, according to the BMJ Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

By the end of the first week in a coma, almost half of those patients who have not recovered consciousness will remain in a vegetative state.

Causes of Coma and Severe Brain Injury

Our experienced Virginia brain injury lawyers have helped people who were left in a coma by car accidents. However, there are many causes of a coma. They include:

·       Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Traumatic brain injuries are linked to car, truck and motorcycle wrecks, falls, sporting accidents or acts of violence like being punched in the head. 

·       Oxygen deprivation. People may be deprived of oxygen in a number of ways including almost drowning or by having a heart attack.

·       Stroke. A stroke cuts down or interrupts the blood supply to the brain. It may be caused by a burst blood vessel or blocked arteries and can lead to a coma. 

·       Diabetes. Diabetics can suffer from coma when their sugar levels get too high, known as hyperglycemia or too low (hypoglycemia).

·       Infections. Some serious infections like meningitis, which causes swelling (inflammation) of the brain, the tissues that surround the brain, or the spinal cord can lead to brain damage or coma. Encephalitis may also cause a coma.

·       Toxins. Exposure to certain dangerous toxins like carbon monoxide or lead may cause a coma. A landlord may be liable for this condition when tenants are impacted.

·       Drugs and alcohol. Overdosing on drugs or alcohol can lead to a coma.

Who Can Be Held Liable for Coma and Severe Brain Injury in Virginia?

If you or a loved one has ended up in a coma due to an accident, the need to recover the most possible for ongoing medical injuries is paramount. Even those who recover from a coma may suffer long-term damage.

Parties who can be held liable for severe brain injury and coma include:

·      A car driver who causes an accident;

·      The trucking company who employed an at-fault trucker;

·      A landlord or apartment management company for injuries caused by a carbon monoxide leak or another hazard;

·      The operator of a commercial building responsible for a slip-and-fall injury;

·      The operator of an unsafe workplace;

·      A medical professional who causes a coma through malpractice;

·      The manufacturer of a defective part that causes injury;

·      The maker of a dangerous drug that causes unconsciousness;

·      An athletic organization, or school or college that allowed an athlete with a concussion to continue playing a sport.

Contact an Experienced Brain Injury Lawyer About Serious Brain Injuries and Comas

At the Smith Law Center, our attorneys have a long track record of taking on and winning major traumatic brain injury cases, resulting in multi-million dollar payouts. Call us at 757.244.7000.




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