What are signs of a vegetative state?

The characteristic signs of a vegetative state are when individuals are unaware of themselves and their surroundings, though are physically awake. This may occur after (and may be considered an improvement upon) a coma. Family members of severe brain damage victims can consult a Cleveland, Ohio brain injury lawyer about pursuing a claim for damages.

Signs of a Vegetative State 

When patients are in a vegetative state, their bodies are fully awake. They go through cycles of sleeping and wakefulness, but they are unable to process information, understand their environment or respond to stimuli.

Some of the signs of a vegetative state that individuals may exhibit include: 

  • assume a regular schedule of sleeping and waking;
  • have a steady heart rate, blood pressure and respiration rate;
  • be able to close, open and briefly move their eyes;
  • make an occasional sound;
  • cry, smile or make facial expressions, often without cause or reason;
  • inability to speak or communicate;
  • make reflex movements and grip objects; and
  • experience incontinence and be unable to control bladder and bowel movements. 

Recovery from a vegetative state depends on the level of trauma and brain damage the person experienced, as well as the location of the damage. In general, the longer a person is in a coma or vegetative state, the less likely it is he or she will regain awareness. In many cases, even if awareness is achieved, the person may be permanently disabled and experience lifelong physical and cognitive impairments.

Causes of Severe Brain Damage and a Vegetative State 

A person can fall into a vegetative state for a variety of reasons, the most common being traumatic brain injuries.

Other causes of severe brain damage, and a subsequent vegetative state, can include: 

  • health conditions or incidents that deprive the brain of oxygen;
  • strokes and heart attacks;
  • brain infections, including meningitis;
  • poisoning and drug overdoses; and
  • smoke inhalation, near drowning and other forms of suffocation. 

A vegetative state can also occur out of a doctor’s error or negligence. Administering too much anesthesia, making a surgical error or failing to properly monitor a patient’s condition are all forms of negligence and malpractice that could lead to vegetative state.

Getting Help from Cleveland, Ohio Brain Injury Lawyers 

When brain damage or a vegetative state stem from an act of medical malpractice of negligence, victims may consider filing a malpractice claim against the at-fault doctor, nurse, or health care facility in charge of their care.

A malpractice claim can help victims and their families recoup the expenses they’ve incurred on: 

  • medical bills and treatments;
  • future costs;
  • lost income;
  • disability; and
  • pain and suffering. 

To learn more about filing a claim or to discuss their specific case, victims and their loved ones can speak to Cleveland, Ohio brain injury lawyers at Mellino Robenalt LLC about filing a claim. An attorney can work with medical experts to evaluate the signs of the vegetative state to help evaluate current and future medical costs.