Related on TestTube:
Can a Brain Injury Make You a Genius?
7 Insane Things We Get From Dreams
When a person is in a coma, they are alive but won't respond to stimuli. The brain of a comatose person is active, but only at a base level. Someone comatose can't be woken up or perform any voluntary action, but it's sort of like being asleep. A coma can be caused by increased pressure, bleeding, loss of oxygen, buildup of toxins or other injuries to the brain. They can be temporary or permanent. A person in a coma can sometimes breathe on their own or may need to be on a ventilator in order to continue living. Diabetics can fall into a coma if their blood sugar becomes too high or too low. A medically induced coma, which isn't technically a real coma, is when a patient is given enough anesthetic until they've reached a deep state of unconsciousness.
Coma severity is measured on the Glasgow Coma Scale, which goes from 3 (being in a deep coma) to 15 (awake and conscious). Every coma is different depending on the part of the brain being starved of oxygen. Doctors need to put a comatose patients on IV nutrients since they cannot feed themselves. The average coma lasts two to four weeks, but the longer the coma, the less the chance of recovery or survival.
Unfortunately, there's no treatment to wake someone from a coma; some wake, some don't. Diabetic comas can be ended relatively quickly with treatment, but brain impacts or clots can take longer. In the end, the length of a coma depends on the severity of the brain injury, and after regaining consciousness, doctors will have to assess lasting impact of the brain's starvation. Parts of the brain could be damaged beyond repair, causing permanent physical or mental disabilities. But afterward, ALL coma patients will need physical and mental therapy to fully restore functions, it's rare but people can completely recover. Have you ever been in a coma? Do you know anyone who has been? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below.
How Comas Work (HowStuffWorks.com)
"Illnesses that affect the brain and brain injuries can both cause comas. If a person suffers severe head trauma, the impact can cause the brain to move back and forth inside the skull."
How Active Is the Brain in a Coma? (DiscoveryNews.com)
"When doctors recently tested former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon brain with a functional MRI, they found "robust" brain activity when he was shown pictures of his family and heard his son's voice. A stroke and brain hemorrhage left Sharon in a coma seven years ago."