A vegetative state is a possible outcome of a traumatic brain injury, stroke, or hemorrhage. A person in a vegetative state has normal sleep/wake cycles, but is not aware of their surroundings. A vegetative state is often the result of an injury to the upper brain as opposed to the brainstem. Brainstem injuries often preserve cognition and awareness.
Symptoms of Being in a Vegetative State
People who suffer brain trauma and fall into a vegetative state exhibit specific symptoms that differ from other types of comas like pseudocoma, or minimally conscious states like locked in syndrome. This may include:
- Obvious sleep/wake cycles
- Opening and closing eyes
- Moaning and making other noises, often as a result of painful stimuli
- Startle responses with unexpected touch or noise
- Crying, smiling, and making other facial expressions without reason
- Lacking speech or other communication
- No purposeful movement
- Absence of awareness and cognition
Treatment for a Vegetative State
There is no cure for those who fall into a vegetative state following a brain injury. Doctors and medical professionals provide supportive care, trying to ward off opportunistic and secondary illnesses and infections. This may include:
- Bed sores
- Other skin infections
- Other lung infections
- Urinary tract infections
In some cases, this type of supportive care will allow the person’s brain the time it needs to stop swelling and begin to heal. During this process, the patient may regain some level of consciousness, waking up from the vegetative state. Your loved one’s doctor will likely run tests regularly to check for brain function in the first days and weeks following their injury or incident.
Recovery Is Possible from a Vegetative State
In some cases, patients are only in a vegetative state for a limited time before regaining a higher level of consciousness. Recovery following an injury severe enough to cause this minimally conscious state is often slow and rarely complete.
While data published by the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center tells us that about 50 percent of people in a vegetative state one month after their injury eventually recover consciousness, many suffer from lasting cognitive and physical impairments. Those who remain in a minimally conscious state long term are said to be in a “persistent vegetative state.”
You May Be Able to Pursue Compensation After a TBI and Vegetative State Diagnosis
If your loved one is in a vegetative state following an accident or medical mishap, you may be eligible to pursue compensation on their behalf. If negligence caused or contributed to their traumatic brain injuries, you may be able to hold the at-fault party liable for the financial and non-economic losses he or she suffered.
Recoverable losses may include:
- Medical care costs
- Ongoing care costs
- Lost wages and benefits
- Diminished earning capacity
- Out-of-pocket costs
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Wrongful death
Let the legal team from Newsome Melton review your family member’s case for free. A brain injury lawyer may be able to pursue compensation through an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit on your family’s behalf. We only have a limited time to take legal action, so call us today at 1-866-611-BASC. A member of our team is standing by to take your call now.