Written by attorney Christopher Michael Mellino

Permanent Vegetative State Guide for Loved Ones

An injury or illness can be severe enough to cause a permanent vegetative state, or coma. A coma is a state of unconsciousness caused by damage to the cortex in the brain. The person is alive and aware of his or her surroundings, but unable to move, talk, think, feel pain or perform bodily functions. If the person does move, it is spontaneous and uncontrollable. Circulation and breathing within the body still exist, however. A Cleveland personal injury lawyer discusses how a permanent vegetative state occurs and what this means for the patient.

Causes of a Permanent Vegetative State

A persistent vegetative can have many causes, including:

  • brain trauma;
  • brain tumors;
  • stroke;
  • liver or kidney failure;
  • reduced levels of oxygen in the brain;
  • low blood pressure;
  • infections;
  • blood sugar levels that are too low or too high;
  • decrease in body temperature;
  • seizures;
  • drugs and alcohol; and
  • medical malpractice in Ohio, such as negligence during surgery.

Changes to the Body during a Persistent Vegetative State

When a person is in a persistent vegetative state, many changes are occurring inside the body. Because the person is immobile for a long period of time, bed sores can develop and muscles can atrophy. The arms and legs may become stiff and immobile. Because secretions tend to enter the lungs during a coma, the person is prone to pneumonia, which can cause the lungs to collapse and become scarred.

Because the person becomes incontinent – meaning he or she cannot urinate or defecate on his or her own – urinary tract infections become common. These infections may enter the bloodstream and lead to sepsis, a blood infection. In addition, incontinence can lead to ulcers and skin problems, which can take a long time to heal.

Chances of Recovery

Recovery is different for each person in a coma. Recovery will depend on the severity of the coma, as well as how the coma occurred. Many people suffer from physiological and physical problems after recovery. According to the American Hospice Foundation, a person has the best chances for survival if he or she can come out of the coma before brain damage occurs. A person in a permanent vegetative state will often gradually recover within several days or even weeks. Most comas do not last for more than four weeks, at which point the person either recovers or dies. Death from pneumonia and/or other infections is common. Recovery after six months is rare.

Contacting a Personal Injury Attorney in Cleveland

It can be an emotional experience to see a loved one in a permanent vegetative state, particularly if it was caused by medical malpractice in Ohio. Patients do have legal and medical rights that should be explored by a knowledgeable attorney. Mellino Robenalt, LLC, has Ohio brain injury lawyers in Cleveland that can help clients and their families make wise healthcare decisions and recover as much financial compensation as possible. Clients can contact an Ohio brain injury lawyer in Cleveland today at 444-333-3800 and order their free book, _ Was it A Mistake? Your Ohio Medical Malpractice Questions Answered._

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