The Naked Scientists Forum
Physiology & Medicine
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05/12/2003 00:25:10 »
Can someone help?
My mom has been in a coma for more than two months due to a head injury sustained in a car crash. I have so many questions for which I feel I am not getting suitable answers.
Her eyes are open now- can she see me?
Can she hear me? Does she know its me? Does she want to answer back but can't? Does she know she is injured?
Is it possible to measure the extent of the brain damage? HOW?
Anything will help. Thanks,
Reply #1 on:
05/12/2003 13:19:05 »
After about a month in a coma, the body will physiologically awaken -- her eyes open, she might moan, yawn, etc. The key is to look for PURPOSEFUL movement. Do her eyes follow you across the room? Does she withdraw from pain? A hand squeeze is sort of a reflex action and doesn't count as purposeful movement. Measurement of the brain damage is a complex thing that the neurosurgeons and neurologists should be talking about with you. There is lots of debate on whether or not these patient's can hear you. I believe that at some level what they hear processes, so as a nurse, I never allowed anyone to speak negatively about my patient's prognosis at the bedside if the patient was unconscious. I can't answer all of your questions, but I can tell you that I have never had a severely ill -- not even comatose -- patient in the ICU remember what happened to them. When a patient stabilizes, they get transferred out of the ICU. On rare occasions, the family would bring the patient up to see us before discharge to thank us, and let us know they were going home. Always a rewarding experience, however, they never did remember their ICU experience. Maybe it's the brain's way of protecting you from bad memories.
I would speak to her, read the newspaper, tell her what the weather is like outside, make sure they exercise all her limbs and joints with passive range of motion, so she doesn't get contractures. Tell her everything you can to keep her connected to her life here. That's about all that you can do. The rest is in the hands of the doctors -- and God.