Are there different levels of consciousness for someone in a vegetative state?

Yes, there may be another level of consciousness when someone has suffered serious brain damage. A minimally conscious state, for instance, may bring limited awareness that is greater than that of a vegetative state but may still require regular medical care and high medical bills. 

If the state is the result of medical negligence, a Cleveland medical malpractice lawyer may help families of brain damaged patients pursue compensation for these damages.

Similarities between Minimally Conscious State and Vegetative State 

It helps to first compare some of the similarities between these states. For instance, in both states there are times when the brain damaged patient will open his/her eyes and experience sleep/wake cycles.

Differences between Minimally Conscious State and Vegetative State 

With these two levels of consciousness, there are differences that families of these brain-damaged patients should discuss with the doctor caring for the patient. As an example, there is no visual tracking when the person is vegetative, but there may be when the patient is minimally conscious.

In a vegetative state the person won’t: 

  • recognize objects;
  • follow command;
  • communicate; or
  • show contingent emotion.

But this may occur in a minimally conscious state; however, it may occur inconsistently.

Impact of a Traumatic Brain Injury on Levels of Consciousness 

The severity of a brain injury can impact the level of consciousness. If it’s a mild injury, there may be only minor problems, such as disorientation or confusion. But in a severe injury, it can result in unconsciousness that lasts a short period of time to indefinitely.

Recovery from a severe brain injury may involve different phases, but may not progress to full recovery. If someone has been in a coma or vegetative state, consciousness may start to return. But this is different for each person.  Generally, chances of full recovery may be lower for severe injuries than mild ones.

Some may eventually regain the ability to communicate by using gestures (hands, head) or even words. Simple instructions may be followed and the person may be able to perform basic tasks, such as holding an item, using a straw or combing his/her hair.

Even those who do recover from a traumatic brain injury and regain consciousness may experience challenges and complications. It’s not uncommon for brain-damaged patients to sustain permanent impairments cognitively and physically.

As these injuries can cause serious and long-term complications, families of these patients may consult a Cleveland medical malpractice lawyer if they believe that medical negligence is the cause of the brain injury.

Seeking Legal Counsel with a Cleveland Medical Malpractice Lawyer 

When someone is in a vegetative or minimally conscious state, the recovery process can be lengthy. The person can spend weeks, months or even longer in a hospital. If he/she does eventually regain consciousness and recovers, there may still be numerous physical and emotional challenges ahead.

A severe brain injury could result in permanent disability. Between the escalating medical bills and lack of income, it can create a significant financial burden. But if the injury was caused by a medical professional’s negligence – such as during surgery while under anesthesia – families of brain-damaged patients may consult with a Cleveland medical malpractice lawyer.

Mellino Robenalt LLC can consult with families whose loved one has been injured and is at one of these levels of consciousness and requires treatment and care.

Tagged with: , ,