Whether caused by a car accident or a slip and fall, serious head injuries have lasting consequences. Some injury victims require lifelong rehab and treatment just to restore minimal function. Others must live with diminished mobility for life.
Others still experience even more serious consequences. According to Healthline, a person in a vegetative state has no cognitive awareness but does have a functioning brain stem. That means they are capable of basic functions, like breathing, without assistance.
Symptoms of a vegetative state
People in vegetative states can function on a very basic level. They can breathe without assistance, exhibit basic reflexes, and move their eyes. They cannot speak or respond non-verbally, or give indications they have heard and understood a command or statement. They do not express emotion or indicate awareness of their surroundings.
Care and treatment
Treatment of vegetative states focus on supportive care and making the patient comfortable. Patients require tube feeding to ensure they receive the proper nutrients. Changes of bedding and clothing must occur regularly to prevent bedsores from forming. Physical therapy keeps the limbs flexible. Families and therapists can also talk to and touch the patient to stimulate their senses.
Impact on family
The family of the person in the vegetative state will make many decisions regarding care and treatment. They must decide whether to administer life-preserving treatments and therapies. They must also find the appropriate care facility, such as a nursing home. At some point, the family must make the difficult decision of whether to continue medical care.
It is possible to emerge from a vegetative state, but the outcome usually depends on the severity of injuries and the person’s state of health prior to the accident. Working with a skilled and experienced medical provider is best to receive the most accurate guidance during this difficult process.