A coma is a sleeplike state, but it is not sleep; the patient never wakes, does not respond to stimuli and doesn’t take any voluntary actions. Movies depict comas as essentially permanent sleep, but in real life, coma patients may be able to walk, speak and do other things that seem voluntary — even though they’re not. Most coma patients recover in a few days or within five weeks, but a few may stay in a coma for years.

Not all comas are the same; doctors rate them according to how deep the coma is on the Glasgow Coma Scale. (Some, especially early in the coma, may use the Rancho Los Amigos Scale as well, but it is more complex.) The Glasgow Coma scale measures how patients respond to stimuli with eye movements, verbal responses, and motor responses. The higher a patient’s score, the better; a fully awake person would score 15 on the Glasgow Coma Scale, whereas someone in a very deep coma would score just 3. Knowing how a patient scores may help doctors predict the level of brain damage — and thus, the amount of care needed — when and if the patient does wake.

Comas can be one of the most tragic and difficult results of a traumatic brain injury. The victim is alive, but cannot respond; doctors have very little way of predicting when he or she will recover. Families with limited resources must make painful decisions about the victim’s future health care. They may also worry about the victim’s future if he or she does recover; coma patients may need extensive therapy to be able to live independent, normal lives again.

If someone you care about has fallen into a coma because of a brain injury, you face enormous and difficult decisions — financially and emotionally. If the injury was caused by someone else’s carelessness, you have the right to seek compensation from that person for the medical costs you now face, as well as compensation for the loss of your loved one’s care and companionship and other losses. At Gillin, Jacobson, Ellis & Larsen, our Northern California coma lawyers have been helping brain injury victims and their families for more than 30 years. We have recovered millions of dollars for our clients, and we’re dedicated to providing the personal touch — treating clients with sympathy and respect while aggressively going after defendants. For a free evaluation of your case, call us today at 1-866-765-4643.