A violent blow to a person’s head or body might result in TBI, which may cause short-term or prolonged unconsciousness. TBI can either be severe or mild. The former affects the brain cells for a long time and may be permanent. On the contrary, the latter is temporary and may last for up to 30 days only. When a person has TBI, he or she could become unresponsive. Unconsciousness is a state of unresponsiveness, which implies that an individual cannot perform activities related to natural reflexes. In most cases, doctors refer to unconsciousness as being in a comatose state. This introduction script focuses on analyzing coma and its relationship with TBI.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury results from a blow to the head. The force and nature of the impact determine the degree of injury to the brain. When a person falls from a bed, ladder, stairs, and in the bathroom, he or she could hit the head against the surface. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic head injuries in the USA, especially among children and older adults (Firsching, 2017). Besides, sports injuries may cause TBI due to athletes clashing heads. Sports such as boxing, baseball, soccer, football, and other high-impact games can cause brain injuries among the players.
Child abuse, gunshot wounds, and domestic violence are also significant causes of TBI in the USA today. Violence may involve repeated hitting of the head; hence, presenting the possibility of causing brain damage (Firsching, 2017). Besides, explosive blasts in combat may result in TBI. Military personnel taking part in war often suffer TBI caused by their engagements with explosives.
Medical professionals refer to a coma as a state of mental unconsciousness, which can result from traumatic accidents to the head (Blyth & Bazarian, 2010). A heavy blow to the head can result in a comatose mental state. Besides, a predisposing mental condition such as an infection of the brain could cause a coma. When an individual is in this state, he or she cannot wake up or respond to other people. A coma is also different from brain death because people are not active, but their brains function well (Firsching, 2017). The level of consciousness among patients depends on the functionality of the brain. In most cases, a coma lasts for days or weeks; however, there are rare instances when a person enters into the state for several years. A coma is a medical emergency that requires rapid action to preserve the brain’s functions and life.
People who go into a coma are unable to respond to stimuli; therefore, they do not exhibit normal reflexes. In addition, patients in comatose do not experience the regular sleep-wake patterns characterized by normal sleep. Experts contend that a coma can be gradual or rapid depending on the level of damage caused to the brain (Blyth & Bazarian, 2010). During comatose, individuals experience automatic body functions such as patterns of sleep, breathing, and blood circulation. However, their ability to think voluntarily is suppressed by the brain’s lack of functionality. Interestingly, the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) posits that comatose patients may laugh, cry, or even grimace despite the actions not being voluntary.
In medicine, doctors may induce a coma to prevent a patient from experiencing excruciating pain during recovery and healing. Besides, patients who experience high levels of brain damage during an accident may be subjects to induced coma to preserve their brain’s functionality (Firsching, 2017). A lengthy comatose is referred to as a persistent vegetative state. A patient who stays in this state for an extended period has a low likelihood of waking up again.
As mentioned above, a person who enters into a coma loses the ability to use natural reflexes such as speaking, walking, and eating among others. Therefore, medical practitioners diagnose coma through external signs such as still limbs, unresponsiveness to painful stimuli, and closed eyes. Nevertheless, TBI causes a sudden appearance of comatose symptoms. Individuals involved in violent situations, blasts, or even accidents may experience comatose. Blyth and Bazarian (2010), argue that over 50% of patients in a coma relate to head trauma. Therefore, it is paramount to avoid instances or situations that can cause traumatic brain injuries.
Traumatic Brain Damage and Coma
TBI severity is classified into three major categories, which are severe, moderate, and mild. Medical practitioners use the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) to determine and rank the severity of TBI. Accordingly, a scale of 8 and below is severe, 9-12 is moderate, and above 13 is mild (Blyth & Bazarian, 2010). The primary aspects that help doctors determine these levels are reactions to stimuli, motor, and verbal abilities. In most cases, people who experience TBI are taken to emergency facilities where doctors assess their responses to determine their probability of going into a coma.
Head injuries are primary causes of comatose because they cause bleeding or swelling of the brain. Accordingly, the fluid in the head pushes the brain against the skull; hence, damaging the Reticular Activating System (RAS). Interestingly, RAS is the part responsible for a person’s ability to wake or sleep (Blyth & Bazarian, 2010). Medical practitioners use a head CT scan to determine the extent of brain swelling that a patient has. Also, bleeding from a head injury could result in the compression of the brain. Undoubtedly, the scale of brain hemorrhage and swelling determines the probability of a person going into a comatose state.
Head injuries can cause brain distress, as they lead to oxygen deprivation. One of the essential elements that keep the brain functioning well is oxygen (Firsching, 2017). When a person’s head is hit violently, he or she might experience a reduced flow of oxygen into the brain. Swelling of the brain tissue can cause limited oxygen flow and imbalance of the electrolytes. Medical experts argue that lack of enough oxygen in the brain could cause it to experience limited functions.
Doctors apply a variety of diagnoses to determine whether a patient is in a coma. Some of these are physical tests, imaging scans, and blood tests. During physical tests, doctors assess the individual’s reflexes, response to pain, and the size of their pupils (Firsching, 2017). Mainly, these tests are intended to trigger reflexive movements of the eyes, which helps to determine the cause and extent of the coma.
Imaging scans show the extent and location of brain damage or injury. The scans check for abnormalities and possible brain blockages. Besides, electroencephalography (EEG) helps to determine the brain’s electrical activities. Accordingly, the scans facilitate treatment because they can pinpoint the exact location and extent of the effects of TBI (Blyth & Bazarian, 2010). During electrolyte testing, doctors highlight the flow of electrical charges in the brain to assess whether there are blockages in the brain or not. Blood tests help to evaluate the presence of drugs in the system, a patient’s blood count, and liver functions. Also, they identify glucose and electrolyte levels in the brain.
A coma is classified as an acute medical emergency. During instances of a comatose, medical professionals must first ensure that the patient survives by securing the circulation of oxygen in the brain (Firsching, 2017). Doctors might use oxygen masks to help a patient breath well to facilitate the supply of oxygen in the bloodstream. Hospitals recommend the use of a head CT scan to determine the level of head and brain injury (Blyth & Bazarian, 2010). Accordingly, the care of a patient with polytrauma is often interdisciplinary. The process of treating multiple body organs depends on urgency; however, doctors can perform several operations simultaneously to relieve pressure from the brain. Patients suffering from penetrating head injuries should not undergo immediate surgical repair. The risks of such procedures are increased by acute post-traumatic brain edema (Blyth & Bazarian, 2010). Therefore, surgeries for other body and head injuries must be deferred to give the patient enough time to recover and be stable.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a significant cause of unconsciousness among Americans today. When a person suffers from a head injury, he or she may experience brain damage that could gravitate into a coma. As mentioned above, there is a direct link between comatose and TBI, as most accident victims are often diagnosed with unconsciousness. Today, gunshot wounds, child abuse, domestic violence, and assault are major causes of brain injuries in the USA. Undoubtedly, medical practitioners argue that comatose patients should be considered emergency cases by hospitals. The treatment of patients in this state should be concentrated on ensuring the survival of the brain and vital organs by facilitating oxygen flow in the blood system.
Blyth, B. J., & Bazarian, J. J. (2010). Traumatic alterations in consciousness: traumatic brain injury. Emergency Medicine Clinics, 28(3), 571-594.
Firsching, R. (2017). Coma after acute head injury. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, 114(18), 313.