How common are comas after car crashes?

If you have a loved one who is in a coma, then you know that this is a severe health issue. They may have suffered a traumatic head injury or have been placed into a coma to help them heal from other major injuries after a collision.

A natural coma is a medical emergency that requires a medical team to step in a provide care to preserve a person’s brain function. The individual will need imaging tests to determine the cause of the coma.

There are fewer than 200,000 coma cases in the United States annually, but traumatic brain injuries are a leading cause. Traumatic disturbances in the brain cause around 50% of all comas.

What kinds of comas are there?

There are a few kinds of comas. These include medically induced comas, which are temporary and used to help protect the brain from swelling, persistent vegetative state comas, which are a state of severe unconsciousness with a potential for wakefulness, and toxic metabolic encephalopathy, which is usually reversible and causes systems like delirium and confusion.

Interestingly, many types of comas can be treated. Though the media often shows comas lasting for years or resulting in patients never waking, the reality is that the prognosis will vary based on the patient’s injuries. Some problems are more easily corrected than others. Most comas last only a few weeks or months, but others may persist until the person’s death.

What should families expect when a loved one is in a coma?

When someone you love is in a coma due to trauma, expect the medical team to provide them with supportive care. They may have to go through surgery in some cases, but not all. Over time, your loved one’s prognosis may change, so it’s important to follow the medical team’s suggestions.

After a crash, the at-fault driver’s insurance should cover medical expenses, lost financial support and other losses associated with your loved one’s crash. Your family can look into making a claim so that you have the support you need as you focus on helping your loved one through this catastrophic injury.