There are no exact numbers on how many people are diagnosed with locked-in syndrome each year. However, it is an extremely rare condition. There are only a handful of known locked-in syndrome cases confirmed each year. With no international or national agency tracking this condition, the actual prevalence is likely much higher. Many cases of locked-in syndrome may also go unrecognized or misdiagnosed.
Diagnosing Locked-In Syndrome
Locked-in syndrome is sometimes difficult to diagnose. Those who have the condition suffer quadriplegia, limited movement of the head and face, and inability to communicate verbally. However, they are alert and cognitively intact. Unless doctors run the right tests, the victims may be aware of what is going on around them but unable to communicate with their doctors or family members.
Doctors must pair neurological exams with tests of brain activity such as an electroencephalogram (EEG). If the EEG shows normal brain activity, the doctor can begin to develop communication with the patient through blinking or vertical eye movement.
Causes of Locked-In Syndrome
Locked-in syndrome is a rare outcome of illness or injury that damages the brainstem, or other critical areas of the brain that regulate autonomic functions. This may include:
- Strokes or brain hemorrhage that involve the blood supply to the brainstem
- A lesion or tumor on the brainstem
- Traumatic brain injury
- Poisoning or snake bites with neurotoxic venom
- Damage to nerve cells or the myelin sheath, such as in osmotic demyelination syndrome
Prognosis for Those With Locked-In Syndrome
There is no known treatment or cure for locked-in syndrome. It is incredibly unusual for someone with locked-in syndrome to make a significant recovery of motor function, although there are a handful of documented cases.
Treatment for locked-in syndrome strives to prevent bedsores, pneumonia, and other complications, as well as improve quality of life. Often the most significant advances in quality of life occur with the help of technology, specifically eye gaze devices and brain-computer interface devices to aid communication. Lifts and customized wheelchairs can also make it possible for those with the condition to remain at home with their family.
Pursuing Compensation After a Locked-In Syndrome Diagnosis
In some cases, you may be eligible to take legal action on behalf of your loved one with a locked-in syndrome diagnosis. This might be possible if they suffer the condition because of a traumatic brain injury or medical malpractice. The attorneys from Newsome | Melton will evaluate your case for free and can explain your legal options.
Call us today at (800) 917-5888 to get started with your complimentary case review with a member of our team.