Do people wake up from, and recover from, comas?

Posted on October 25, 2019

When you think about a coma, what do you imagine? Is it someone who is sleeping and never wakes up? Is it someone who eventually has life support removed after donating organs to others? Those situations can be the reality for patients who are in comas, but they aren’t always.

Comas, by definition, are prolonged states of unconsciousness. Though people in comas are unresponsive, they may eventually wake. Usually, when patients come out of them, they slowly emerge, as if they are waking over a long period of time.

Comas are caused by brain injuries, which is why some are more serious than others. The brain injuries that lead to comas include those caused by a lack of oxygen reaching the brain, a buildup of toxins or increased pressure or bleeding. In fact, over 50% of comas are related to dysfunction in the brain’s circulatory system.

When a head injury happens, it can cause the brain to swell or bleed. The increased pressure, if not controlled, then forces the brain to push down onto the brain stem. This eventually results in damage to the reticular activating system, which is the area of the brain responsible for awareness and arousal.

The prognosis for a coma varies based on the type of coma the person is in and how seriously their brain was injured. Comas caused by head injuries tend to have a better rate of recovery than those caused by a lack of oxygen.

If your loved one is in a coma, it may take time for them to recover. However, you can seek compensation on their behalf while they recover in the hospital.