Suffering any type of injury can be a scary and painful experience. Damage to the brain or spinal cord, in particular, can be quite terrifying as these injuries are often life-threatening. For victims of traumatic brain injuries, drastic actions are sometimes necessary. In order to reduce brain swelling and give the brain a chance to rest, extreme cases may call for a medically induced coma.
What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
A traumatic brain injury is a damage done to the brain resulting from a forceful blow to the head, a sharp jolt causing the brain to be thrown against the skull, or penetration of the brain tissue.
The damage to the brain can include bruising, swelling, torn tissue, and bleeding. Long-term consequences can be severe, with death being a possibility.
The symptoms of a traumatic brain injury vary widely, and while some are immediately detectable, others may not present themselves until weeks after the incident occurs. Possible symptoms include:
- Memory loss
- Problems concentrating
- Blurred Vision
- Pupil dilation
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Increased sleep
- Decreased sleep
- Loss of consciousness
- Numbness in extremities
- Problems with speech
- Mood changes
How Does a Medically Induced Coma Work?
A medically induced coma uses drugs to put the brain into a state of limited activity. The aim of the coma is to achieve a sedation level known as burst suppression. During burst suppression, the brain alternates between several seconds of quiet and short bursts of activity. While the brain is quiet, it is able to rest and heal.
A patient in need of a medically induced coma is given drugs, such as propofol, pentobarbital, and thiopental. The drugs are administered by an anesthesiologist, with the goal of putting the brain into a state of deep unconsciousness. While in the coma, an electroencephalograph (EEG) is used to monitor brain activity.
A machine will be hooked up to the patient to continue to deliver the correct dose of anesthetic to keep the brain at the desired level of inactivity. Medical staff will monitor the patient’s brain activity using the EEG and make adjustments to the levels of the drugs being delivered through the machine as necessary.
Medically induced comas are rare and are almost always a last resort. Most of these procedures are performed in relation to traumatic brain injuries when efforts to reduce swelling through drugs, including steroids and diuretics, have failed.
Patients are typically kept in medically induced comas for short periods of time, ranging between two days and two weeks. In rare cases, these comas can last as long as months. When doctors see improvement, the patient will be taken out of the coma using the reverse process of how they were put under, slowly reducing the drugs while monitoring the patient.
Risks of a Medically Induced Coma
Thankfully the risks associated with a medically induced coma are relatively low. The procedure is completely reversible, but problems can arise, such as:
- Heart problems
- Blood clots
Heart problems associated with the use of pentobarbital are the most serious side effects. The drug can weaken the heart muscle and result in low blood pressure, impaired circulation, and heart failure.
Seeking Compensation for a Traumatic Brain Injury
The financial costs resulting from a traumatic brain injury can be quite extreme. Most people who suffer this type of injury will require financial assistance. While a person’s health insurance should cover some of the cost of these injuries, for severe cases, there are likely to be lifelong expenses that are not covered.
If you or a loved one suffered a traumatic brain injury, as the result of another party’s negligence, you will likely be seeking financial compensation from the at-fault party. The best way to ensure that you get the compensation to which you are entitled is to hire a qualified personal injury lawyer. Find a Florida personal injury lawyer with experience in getting clients fair compensation for their personal injury claims.
Always make sure to choose an attorney with whom you feel comfortable. A competent lawyer can handle your case and get you your money, and you can relax and focus on getting better, with the peace of mind that things are in good hands.