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Finding the Best Care for a Loved One in a Coma 


(The Intensive Care Unit)

How to get information from doctors and other medical professionals.

SurgeonsWhen a patient is in an ICU, family members and friends will all want and need information. However the medical team caring for the patient must spend their time providing the best treatment for the patient.

It is important that the family select a spokesman to liason with the medical team.

The family spokesman should write down all questions and concerns of the family. In turn, the spokesman should also take notes on the answers he/she receives in order to pass them on to family members. It is important to remember the recovery process involves a number of specialists who work as a team and information should be sought from all team members in order to understand the patient's situation.

The neuropsychologist is an excellent source of information. Feel free to ask to speak with the neuropsychologist. They typically have more time to speak with the family than members of the team dealing with the medical issues. Part of their job is helping the family to understand the effects brain injury on the patient, and the family members as well.

There should be preparation for some unpleasant information.

Every brain injury is unique. No one can predict the outcome of a brain injury. In general terms, it is believed that the longer the coma lasts, the less likely the individual is to recover fully. However, the location of the damage in the brain may be a more significant indicator. The full effect of the brain injury may not be known for months or years.

There may be no answers to your specific questions.

Your questions may be answered with "wait and see." Although this may be the most accurate answer to your questions, there is more you can do.

Use this time to learn about brain injury.

Your loved one has suffered a brain injury. The extent of recovery is unpredictable. Brain injury is now a part of your life and understanding is the first step in coping with the grief. Many hospitals have libraries with information on brain injury, and the staff will help you to locate any information available. There is a national Brain Injury Association (BIA). Most states have brain injury associations. We attempt to answer some of your questions here, and provide resources on our resources page.

Remember, you are not alone.

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A guide to the medical personnel and their roles in providing care for your loved one.

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Intracranial Pressure

Understanding Coma

Rancho Los Amigos Scale/ The Levels of Coma

Objectives of Neurosurgery

A Guide to Brain Anatomy



Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.

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