Some people diagnosed with locked-in syndrome continue to feel pain and retain sensation throughout their body or in limited areas of their body. Every case of locked-in syndrome is different, especially when it comes to those with an incomplete injury. If you or a loved one has a locked-in diagnosis, their doctor will likely run tests to find out if they:
- Retain no sensation or reaction to painful stimuli.
- Retain sensation and the ability to feel pain in part of the body.
- Retain sensation and the ability to feel pain throughout the body.
Many People with Incomplete Locked-In Syndrome Retain Some Sensation
There are three clinical types of locked-in syndrome: classic, incomplete, and total. In classic cases of locked-in syndrome, the only motor movement retained following a stroke or another injury to the brain stem is vertical eye movement and the ability to blink, in some cases. Those with total locked-in syndrome does not retain any movement. Those with a diagnosis of incomplete locked-in syndrome, however, have various levels of injuries and abilities.
Many people with an incomplete diagnosis report feeling pain and retaining sensation in some or all of their body. Others with the condition may also feel pain or retain some sensation.
Testing to Understand the if a Person with Locked-In Syndrome Can Feel Pain
As a part of their diagnosis and understanding the best type of therapies to prescribe, doctors who treat cases of locked-in syndrome will conduct tests to learn more about nerve function, feeling, proprioception, and other important body functions. Often, this centers around an electroencephalogram (EEG).
An EEG measures brain function by looking at the electrical activity of the brain. In a person with locked-in syndrome, this test should show there is normal brain activity. Sleep-wake cycles are also usually normal in people with locked-in syndrome.
In addition to an EEG, the doctor will likely also request evoked potentials testing. This is a special type of EEG that gauges the brain’s reaction to pain stimulation, among other types of stimulation. This allows the doctors to learn if the person retains the ability to feel pain.
They may also conduct tests that include electromyography, nerve conduction studies, and neurologic examination.
Understanding Locked-in Syndrome and How It Affects the Body
Locked-in syndrome is usually the result of a brain stem stroke that affects the pons or another injury to the same area of the brain. People with locked-in syndrome have little or no control over their motor movements, causing quadriplegia. They also cannot speak but remain cognitively intact. The earliest communication usually occurs through coded messages made by blinking or using vertical eye movement.
In those with incomplete locked-in syndrome, the person may retain the ability to move facial muscles, make small movements with the hands or feet, or retain other movement.
Some People with Locked-In Syndrome Can Recover Movement and Sensation
People diagnosed with locked-in syndrome typically do not regain the ability to move or speak. Some can breathe on their own before they leave the hospital or rehabilitation facility, others regain the ability later, and some rely on medical assistance to breathe for the rest of their lives. There is no standard treatment or cure for locked-in syndrome.
Very rarely, people can make a significant recovery from locked-in syndrome. This could vary from moving a facial or hand muscle enough to operate an electric wheelchair to learning to chew and swallow to relearning how to walk. Some people who have no sensation or feel any pain immediately following a brain stem stroke may regain sensation.
Even without significant improvements, those with locked-in syndrome can live a relatively good quality of life thanks to communication technology, power wheelchairs, and other modern medical devices. Many live at home with their families despite their impairments.
Talk to a Locked-In Syndrome Attorney About Your Legal Options After Diagnosis
If you or a loved one suffered a brain stem stroke or traumatic brain injury and now has a locked-in syndrome diagnosis, the attorneys from Newsome | Melton will review your case for free. In some circumstances, those with this condition can pursue compensation. A member of our team will review your case, and you may be eligible if:
- The injury occurred because of a car accident or other personal injury accident
- The injury occurred because of a violent act
- Medical malpractice occurred, causing or worsening the condition
- There was a delay in diagnosing the condition
We can explain your right to pursue a payout and hold the at-fault party liable. We will file a claim or personal injury lawsuit on your behalf and seek damages that include:
- The cost of your medical care
- Ongoing care costs
- Prescribed medical, mobility, and communication devices
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
Call (800) 917-5888 today to get started with a no-cost evaluation of your case.