Coma and head injury

A coma is a state of prolonged unconsciousness in which the brain functions at its lowest level of alertness. A person in a coma can't be awakened and doesn't respond purposefully to physical or verbal stimulation.

Various causes can bring on a coma — a traumatic head injury, an underlying illness such as diabetes or infection, a stroke, or as the result of a brain tumor.

Occasionally a doctor may induce a coma with drugs to protect the brain and give it a chance to heal after brain surgery, or when someone is experiencing prolonged seizures. Doctors may also use drug-induced coma to control brain swelling caused by a brain injury from head trauma, a stroke or an infection.

People can recover from comas. Recovery depends on the cause, the severity of the injury or illness, and what part of the brain was affected. It's rare for a coma to last more than two weeks.

The level of care and assistance a person may need following recovery from a coma varies and may change over time. Many options for treatment and rehabilitation are available.



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