A coma is the amount of time a person spends unconscious following a traumatic brain injury. A coma can last for a few seconds, or can last for years. Generally, doctors use the severity and length of the coma to determine the long-term prognosis of the survivor. Survivors who are in a coma for seconds or minutes generally have a faster, more complete recovery than those who are in a coma for a longer period of time. As a general rule of thumb, the longer the coma lasts, the longer recovery will take and the greater chance for permanent damage.
The Glasgow Coma Scale
The Glasgow Coma Scale measures the patient’s best response within the first 24 hours following the injury. The scale goes from 3 to 15, with 3 being the lowest score and 15 being the highest. Those with the lowest scores have the least possible chance of survival or recovery, while those with the highest scores are expected to have a good recovery.
Treatment for Coma
There is no treatment for coma. Likewise, there is not test that doctors can run to determine when a person will come out of a coma, or what the patient’s recovery will be like. The length of a coma can’t be accurately predicted.