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"This person had severe brain injury due to a car accident. What's the chance of a recovery for him and what kind of recovery?"

ZocdocAnswersThis person had severe brain injury due to a car accident. What's the chance of a recovery for him and what kind of recovery?


Hello, Can you please tell me what's the chance of a recovery for this person and what kind of recovery I can expect? He had an car accident, air-bags didn't open and he encountered a severe brain injury. He was clinically dead for more than an hour, CPR was performed for an hour and a half. Then he was put in hospital and into a coma because of swelling and all other problems. He was awaken from coma after four months. He can now say a few things, is confused, he is totally different, he is kinda always smiling, he squints on one eye, it looks like he is on a level of a 5 year old child. His muscles are dead, he can't move but they are doing a therapy to try and fix that. Though, he can breathe without any help. Doctors have said it's already amazing he recovered to this point. More parts of brains were damaged, however last CT scan showed that about 45% of damage has been somehow healed by now. Thanks a lot!


Neurologic damage after devastating injury such as described is difficult to predict. I encourage the family members to continue to work with the patient's care providers. Even for the most trained neurologist, it is just about impossible to predict the extent of healing after the injury. When anoxic (lack of oxygen) compounds a trauma is even more devastating for the patient. Often times, months to years of rehabilitation is needed before the family will really know in what shape their loved one will be. During this critical phase, the patient needs all the help they can get. From physical therapy, to help with muscle weakness from prolonged immobilization while in the coma and from neurologic damage, to speech therapy, behavioral therapy and so fourth. Also, it is very usual for patients to have long periods of delirium after a long period of sedated and or coma state. Having some improvement in neurologic function such as able to interact is a positive prognostic sign. In addition, improvement in neurologic imaging is also encouraging. However, only time and strong rehabilitation will truly tell how much function the patient will ultimately regain. Often times they need longterm care and ongoing therapy to help with recovery. Family members can often feel disillusioned with slow recovery. However, it is important to focus on the improvement, even though it may appear small. Also, family members should speak with the patients' care providers for proper assessment of the level of disability they may expect.

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