Comas are a medical condition where a patient is in a prolonged state of unconsciousness. They can be caused by traumatic injuries, a stroke or other brain injuries.
This is a medical emergency because action has to be taken to reduce swelling and improve circulation to the brain. Medical providers work quickly to determine the cause of the coma and to address any symptoms or injuries that they can.
Comas aren’t particularly common after car crashes, but they are more likely in severe collisions. Victims often have closed eyes, pupils that don’t respond to light and no reflexes or response to pain or other stimuli. Some victims will also have irregular breathing patterns.
Why would a medical team induce a coma?
A natural coma may not be as common as induced comas are in medical settings. Induced comas are used to help minimize the stress on the body and brain after a serious injury. Medically induced comas help the body reach a state called “burst suppression,” which means that the brain doesn’t send signals for a few seconds at a time. Then, it works in short bursts. This gives the brain time to rest and heal while keeping the patient out of pain.
One of the most common reasons to use medically induced comas is because of brain swelling. If you or someone you know hit your head in a collision and have an acute brain injury, it’s possible that you could be placed into an induced coma to allow your brain some extra time to heal and to help reduce swelling. By doing this, the medical team is aiming to reduce further complications and to help preserve as much brain function as possible.
For those with severe injuries, these comas don’t always work to restore or preserve brain function. In those cases, those who cannot support without life support may be taken off that support and allowed to pass away. If you lose someone in this way after a collision, then you may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver and collect compensation.