Coma is a deep state
of unconsciousness where the affected individual is alive but is not able to
react or respond to external stimuli.
comatose patients are totally unaware of their states and environments;
sometimes they are partially or fully aware but cannot communicate. There is
lack of consciousness, self-awareness, sleep-wake cycle and purposeful
movements in a comatose patient. But the basic life support functions, like
breathing and blood circulation are retained.
Coma is not a disease
. It is a symptom of a
disease or a response to an event, such as a severe head injury, seizure or
metabolic problem. Coma may appear slowly in
conditions where there are preceding medical or neurological problems,
including the secondary brain swelling that surrounds a pre-existing lesion.
The outcome of coma
ranges from full recovery to death. Whether a person recovers, and to what
extent, depends upon the cause of the coma and the type and extent of brain
damage. It is very important to know that the outcome may remain unknown for
Most comas last no longer than four weeks.
However, some people in a coma shift to a persistent vegetative state, which
can last for years, depending on the medical circumstances and the cause.
Initial emergency treatment of a comatose
patient focuses on stabilizing the vital signs. This may rapidly reverse the
coma. After emerging from a coma, many people can
recover fully; some require lifelong physical and occupational therapy, while
others may recover only basic functions.