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What does a coma mean with a TBI?

While an alert person has a normal state of arousal, someone in a coma from traumatic brain injury is unresponsive and cannot be aroused. The brain injury may be the result of bleeding, increased pressure from swelling, or a build-up of toxins in the brain. When the brain swells as a result of TBI, the fluid pushes up against the skull. The swelling may then cause the brain to push down on the brain stem, which can damage the reticular activating system (RAS), the “on/off” switch to the brain, unless the pressure is relieved. While the person is alive with coma, it appears as if he or she is in a deep sleep. Doctors assess the depth of a coma using the Glasgow Coma Scale. This scale assigns a numerical score to the depth of the coma based on eye opening, speech, and movement.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.