Patients who suffer a serious head injury may gradually move from a coma, in which they are completely unresponsive and unaware, to a vegetative state. In a vegetative state, patients are still unconscious and unaware. However, their eyes may be open, they have a wake-sleep cycle, and they may moan, move, yawn, blink and show other reflex responses to stimuli such as pain, noise or light.
After 30 days of being in a vegetative state without awakening, patients are said to be in a persistent vegetative state. As time goes on, the odds of awakening diminish significantly. After a year without awakening, these patients are said to be in a permanent persistent vegetative state.
Until very recently, doctors presumed that patients in a permanent persistent vegetative state had no hope of recovery. Recently however, they have discovered that some of these patients may actually be in a minimally conscious state. This means that they have moments that demonstrate awareness of themselves and their environment. They may say words, gesture or show evidence of memory and attention. This awareness is often fleeting and usually not easy to reproduce.
Unlike patients in a permanent persistent vegetative state, patients in a minimally conscious state can sometimes recover—years or even decades after their injury. While recovery is extremely rare, it is not impossible.
Severe head injuries are often the result of a motor vehicle crash or other type of traffic accident and frequently cause significant disability for the victim. As a New Braunfels car crash lawyer at the Todd Law Firm, I regularly work on behalf of those who have suffered at the hands of a negligent or careless driver. If you or a loved one have been hurt and want to understand your legal options, call me, attorney David Todd, at 512-472-7799 for a free case consultation. You may also wish to download a free copy of my book The Seven Deadly Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Texas Accident Case for additional information.