Abnormal States of Consciousness May Accompany a Serious Head Injury

According to the Centers for Disease Control, motor vehicle and other traffic accidents contribute to 38.1% of traumatic brain injury-related deaths.  Those who survive a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) are often left with severe disabilities. After an accident that causes a serious head injury, patients can experience significant problems with consciousness, awareness and alertness. The following are five abnormal states of consciousness that can arise after a TBI: 

  • Stupor – A sleeplike condition in which the patient is mostly unconscious. Only a loud noise or intense pain can elicit a response.
  • Coma – A condition in which the patient is unconscious, unaware and does not respond to any external stimuli such as light, pain or noise. Patients may remain in a coma for a few days or weeks and then gradually recover or progress to a vegetative state.
  • Vegetative State – Patients in a vegetative state are unconscious and unaware of their surroundings. However, they do have wake-sleep cycles and their eyes may be open. They may also moan, yawn, blink, move or open their eyes in response to external stimuli such as a loud sound or bright light.
  • Persistent Vegetative State (PVS) – Patients in a PVS are those who have been in a vegetative state for more than 30 days. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the chances of recovery from a PVS within six months are about 50 percent for an adult and 60 percent for a child and depend on the severity of the injury. After about a year, the chances of recovery are very low. Those who do recover are significantly impaired and may not ever progress to the point where they can care for themselves.
  • Locked-In Syndrome – Patients suffering from locked-in syndrome are aware and awake but unable to move or communicate. Many of these patients are still able to blink their eyes and use eye movements to communicate. 

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of moderate to severe TBIs. These injuries are typically life-changing events. They cause long-term disabilities that affect the quality of life of the victim as well as family members and friends. Have you or a loved one suffered a TBI or other serious injury in a crash due to the negligent acts of another driver? Contact Austin truck accident attorney David Todd at 512-472-7799 for a free case review.  You may also wish to download a free copy of his book How to Choose a Texas Truck Accident Lawyer for additional information.