A coma may result from a significant traumatic injury to the head, such as from an auto accident.
Traumatic car accident injuries can have a devastating effect on one’s life. Car accident injuries such as spinal injuries, concussions, broken bones, and limb amputations can cause permanent disabilities thus, completely changing the victim’s normal course of life. A comatose state is one devastating outcome of car accident injuries.
What is Coma?
Coma is a state wherein a person is said to be in a deep state of unresponsive sleep, with minimal brain activity. There is no known state of consciousness and there is no whether a person in a state of coma will be able to wake up.
No medical science has been able to clearly document what people in a coma experience, as those who do wake up from their comatose state have no memory or recollection of what they have experienced during their state of coma and one cannot judge the subjective experiences of their comatose experience.
Brain scans of comatose people also show that the person does not even dream or feel any pain. While some in a coma can breathe on their own and have retention of basic reflexes, they do not have voluntary movements. This suggests that comatose people cannot have conscious behavior.
Those who do wake up from a comatose state start to regain consciousness slowly, often flitting between coma and sleep.
Assessing a Comatose State
Despite all the ambiguity, medical science has been able to assess the extent of a coma and whether a patient can wake up or not.
What is the Glasgow Coma Scale?
Developed by professors in neurosurgery at the University of Glasgow in 1974, the Glasgow coma scale is a neurological tool that assesses a patient’s responses after a TBI (traumatic brain injury) or neurosurgery.
The scale uses a number of indicators to score the patient’s response to stimuli and it gives a raw prediction of the severity of the brain damage. This tool is best used to monitor progress, so a patient will be evaluated repeatedly, and scores compared.
The assessment is done on the basis of the total scores a comatose patient is allocated. The likelihood of a comatose patient awakening is higher if the score is higher. About 87% of comatose patients who score 11 and more have a possibility of waking up and recovering. Similarly, 87% of those scoring 4 or lesser, are more likely to remain in their comatose or vegetative states.
Doctors assign scores based on the Glasgow Coma Scale while considering the following key criteria:
- Motor responses – Motor responses are measured on a scale of 1 to 6, where 6 is a normal response and 1 means no response.
- Verbal responses – Verbal responses are measured on a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 is a normal response and 1 means no response.
- Eye movement – These responses are measured on a scale of 1 to 4, where 4 indicates normal eye movement and 1 meaning no movements at all.
Although its evaluation system seems simple, the Glasgow coma scale should be applied by trained professionals who can correctly interpret the symptoms. We must note that adults react differently than children, which is why the Pediatric Glasgow coma scale is used for the little ones.
How the Glasgow Coma Scale Impacts Your Car Accident Claim
When you are the victim of a car accident that caused you a brain injury, no matter how small, there can be long-term consequences along the road ahead. You might be looking at expensive medical bills, hospitalization, lost wages, losing your job, disability, and poorer quality of life, all of which can lead to depression and anxiety. Covering your losses should be one of your priorities, along with getting better.
In a car accident claim, the Glasgow coma scale score can make the difference between a catastrophic injury and a mild injury. The insurance company will try to deny the claim on various grounds, which is why the Glasgow Coma Scale must be applied by a trained professional, ideally in the immediate aftermath of your accident, at the emergency unit, or right there at the scene.
Hiring a St. Louis auto accident lawyer with years of experience in this type of claim will maximize your chances of getting the compensation you deserve. Each case is different and an individual’s life may be affected differently from others, even if they have the same injury. This is why a lawyer is recommended to defend your claim and put it in the right light for the court to fully understand how your life is and will be affected by your injury.
Recovering from a Coma
Recovery from a comatose state is a slow process. It usually depends on a person’s health before the coma, the effects of the coma, and the injuries sustained. Most with brain damage have permanent lifelong effects, while those with head or spinal injuries may never regain full functions. Most patients need psychological and physical therapy for recovery.
Legal Assistance for Comatose Patients
A person in a coma requires constant medical attention and support in a medical facility. Moreover, post-hospitalization intensive medication and therapies are needed. Recovery often takes years, while some require life-long assistance. All of this, including medical expenses, can result in severe stress on the finances of the patient and his family.
If the accident that caused the coma has been due to someone else’s negligence, the victim and his family should receive compensation. It is therefore important to seek legal assistance from an experienced St. Louis car accident attorney.
The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C.
With 25 years of experience and thousands of successful cases to his credit, St. Louis car accident lawyer Christopher Hoffmann focuses his practice exclusively on handling injury claims arising out of car accidents in Missouri and Illinois.
As one of the preeminent firms helping victims of St. Louis car accidents, we understand how to build strong cases. When you hire our firm, you can be confident that everything will be done to protect your rights and recover the compensation you need.
Free Consultation with a St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer
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