What Is a Coma?

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A male patient lies in a hospital bed in a coma.A coma is an extended state of unconsciousness. A doctor will look for signs that an unconscious person is in a coma, such as pupils that don’t respond to light (indicating depressed brainstem reflexes) or lack of response to painful stimuli. A person who is merely sleeping will usually awaken or respond in some way if painful stimuli are applied, but someone in a coma will have no response other than basic reflexes.

What Are the Causes of Coma?

There are multiple reasons that a person may fall into a coma. If someone you know is unconscious and can’t be woken up, call 911 immediately because they are most likely having a medical emergency. Once they are at the hospital, a doctor will work to determine what caused the coma. Potential reasons include:

Traumatic brain injuries. Also called TBIs, these can occur because the patient was struck on the head, but are also possible if there is a penetrating wound to the head or a significant concussive force (a no-contact brain injury). Frequently we see traumatic brain injuries after car crashes, falls, or other types of accidents.

Stroke. This happens when the patient has reduced or halted blood flow to the brain, most often from a blood clot. Bleeding or a ruptured blood vessel can also lead to stroke. Many strokes can be reversed if treated quickly, so the CDC maintains a list of signs of stroke to watch out for. If you or a loved one have any of these symptoms, please call 911 immediately.

Tumors or growths in the brain.

  • Diabetes. It is possible to fall into a coma due to uncontrolled high or low blood sugar.
  • Loss of oxygen to the brain. Sometimes people remain unconscious after suffering a cardiac arrest or almost drowning, even if they are revived with medical attention.
  • Infections. Any kind of infection that reaches the brain can cause a coma.
  • Seizures, especially chronic or repeat ones, can cause damage leading to a coma.
  • Toxins. Carbon monoxide poisoning and lead exposure are two examples of toxins that can cause neurological symptoms, including coma.
  • Excessive alcohol use or drugs can significantly depress the central nervous system to the point of a coma.

How Long Can You Be in a Coma?

A coma usually lasts no more than a few weeks. After that, if the person remains unconscious, they are considered to be in a persistent vegetative state. With medical care, they can remain this way for years.

Coma After a Car Accident

Traumatic brain injury following a car accident is one of the most common reasons people become comatose – car accidents are responsible for about 17.3 percent of all TBIs. Even at lower speeds and with safety features like seatbelts and airbags, car crashes carry a high potential for head injuries. However, these measures are still essential – you are much more likely to have a TBI when thrown out of the car, so always buckle up! Wearing a seatbelt is associated with less severe head injuries in car accidents.

Early Treatment for Head Injuries is Key

If you want to reduce the risk of coma or other severe complications of a head injury, you should always get prompt medical attention after a car accident – even if you don’t think you’re hurt. Some people are surprised to learn that it’s possible to suffer a severe head injury with few or no immediate symptoms, but it is.

There are several reasons for this:

  • First, car accidents are usually stressful or scary, causing the body to release adrenaline, the “fight or flight” hormone. In addition to aiding “fight or flight,” adrenaline can temporarily suppress feelings of pain, so the car accident victim may not notice a problem immediately.
  • At the same time, a car crash can create a situation in which a person is too scared or distracted by the trauma of the crash to notice that they’ve hit their head.
  • Finally, head injuries don’t always cause symptoms right away. For example, sometimes, a person with bleeding in the brain will feel fine until the bleeding causes a blockage, leading to stroke symptoms. Or, they may not notice symptoms like cognitive difficulties until days or weeks after the injury.

What does this mean for you? If you’re in a car accident, always let the paramedics check you over and go to the emergency room or a doctor for further care if recommended. Even if you “feel fine,” it’s better to get an exam and ensure no “hidden” injuries, especially head injuries that could lead to severe problems later on.

Treatment for TBI and Coma After a Car Accident

Some TBIs are very mild and don’t require immediate treatment, although the hospital may keep you for observation until they’re sure you aren’t having any serious complications. More advanced TBIs may require treatment of symptoms – for example, if a TBI leads to seizures, a doctor will prescribe medication to stop these and protect the brain from further damage.

Comas are usually treated by determining the cause and treating the effects. If a person is brought into the hospital in a coma following a car accident, medical staff will run tests such as an MRI or CT scan, looking for the source of the problem. If there is significant bleeding in the brain, they may perform surgery to stop it or repair the damage. Swelling of the brain is also a potential problem with TBIs, as it can cause damage as pressure builds up in the skull. Doctors usually try to reduce cranial pressure with medication, but if this doesn’t work or the patient is in crisis, they may drill a small hole in the skull to relieve the pressure quickly.

With treatment, many people may wake up from a coma within a few days or weeks. However, some people do not awaken and go into a persistent vegetative state. Those who wake up may have memory loss or other cognitive deficits due to their brain injury. People with TBIs may experience difficulty with movement, speech or language, balance or coordination, or functions like eating or walking. If this happens, the patient may improve with physical, occupational, or speech therapy to support recovery.

CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm Can Help You After a Head Injury

Unfortunately, recovering from a coma or TBI can be a long and challenging journey. In addition to physical pain, you may have emotional or mental trauma. You could also suffer a wide range of difficulties and disabilities, some of which may be permanent. While dealing with these challenges, you may receive many expensive medical bills, even with excellent health insurance. Treating a patient in a coma is very costly, and most policies won’t cover everything. But your challenges may leave you unable to work, either temporarily or permanently, putting you in a stressful financial situation when you need to concentrate on your therapy so you can recover.

While this situation can seem overwhelming or hopeless, there are often options for getting your medical bills paid and covering lost wages and other damages. If you were in a car accident, the at-fault driver’s liability insurance policy should cover at least some of your expenses. There may also be options like suing the driver or other responsible parties – and before you decide that you were at fault, please speak to a lawyer. Many people are mistaken about this! People who have experienced falls or other kinds of head injuries may also be able to seek compensation from the property owner’s liability insurance.

If you or a loved one are struggling after a head injury or coma, please contact the CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm for a free consultation. We’ll go over your accident and identify any potential avenues for pursuing compensation from an applicable insurance company.

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Frequently Asked Questions

After a personal injury, you're bound to have legal questions. The CEO Lawyer Ali Awad can provide you with answers to these questions, just as he's given answers to his millions of curious social media followers. Take a look at some of the most common personal injury law questions for general information, and then reach out to one of our seasoned attorneys for specific guidance on your case!

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Help Negotiating with Insurance Carriers

To quickly resolve matters following an accident, insurance companies will offer you less than you deserve in compensation for your injuries. Many victims feel pressured to accept these offers as the bills begin to pile up, but that is rarely a good idea. The insurance company is looking to protect its bottom line; and will offer injured victims less than they deserve. An experienced personal injury attorney understands how to negotiate with the insurance company and can look out for your best interests by getting you the compensation you deserve after an injury. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, it is important to avoid negotiating or providing recorded statements to the insurance company without first seeking help from a qualified personal injury attorney.

Do You Have a Personal Injury Case?

The best way to determine if you have a personal injury case is to speak with a knowledgeable attorney. Our legal professionals have the expertise to evaluate your case and determine a strong legal strategy so that you can obtain the greatest amount of compensation possible under the law. We will enlist investigators, assistants, and other specialists to collect accident reports, speak with witnesses to your accident, and put together a plan. While you focus on your physical recovery, we will remain committed to fighting for the compensation that you deserve.

Georgia's Personal Injury & Accident Firm

Accident victims have a limited time to file a personal injury lawsuit. This time period is referred to as the statute of limitations, and in Atlanta, it lasts only two years. This means that if you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, you have only two years to pursue a personal injury suit. If you wait too long to reach out to an experienced attorney, you might be forever barred from seeking the compensation you deserve.

What to Expect From Your Initial Consultation With a Personal Injury Attorney?

During your initial consultation with CEO Lawyer team, we will go over the important details of your personal injury accident, which include the nature and extent of your injuries, how your injuries have impacted your ability to earn a paycheck, the cost of your medical treatment, and whether further medical treatment will be required. We will answer any questions you might have, as well, in regards to our experience, our track record of success, and what to expect from the legal process. Many personal injury victims wonder if they will be able to afford the legal fees required to pursue a lawsuit. CEO Lawyer injury and accident attorneys will not ask for any type of upfront fee unless we are successful in obtaining compensation for you. That means that if you have been harmed in a motor vehicle accident, slip and fall accident, defective product accident, or any other type of personal injury accident, you can absolutely afford to contact our law office today for assistance. In fact, you cannot afford to wait. Reach out today. We understand that some accident victims might have already obtained the assistance of an attorney but may be dissatisfied with the services provided. We are standing by and prepared to help you change legal representation, regardless of where you are in the process.

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