The Difference Between Life And Death: Bret Michaels’ And Gary Coleman’s Brain Hemorrhages


Posted on 2nd June 2010 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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The New York Daily News Wednesday posed a question that may have crossed many people’s minds: Why did former child star Gary Coleman die last week of a brain hemorrhage, while rocker Bret Michaels lived?

Coleman, who had a lifelong history of health problems, suffered an intracranial brain hemorrhage when he slipped and fell in his Utah home last Wednesday after undergoing his usual dialysis treatment. Only 42 years old, Coleman went into a coma in the hospital on Thursday, and his family ended his life support on Friday.

Michaels, on the other hand, was at his Arizona home when he suddenly felt an incredible pain in his head. His wife rushed the singer to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with a subarachnoid brain hemorrhage. After some shakey moments, 47-year-old Michaels pulled through, and appeared on the finale of “Celebrity Apprentice,” which he won.

Reporter Rosemary Black explains the difference between the two brain hemorrhages. An intracranial hemorrhage takes place inside the brain, while a subarachnoid hemorrhage is bleeding into the lining around the brain.

Black interviewed physicians who said that the location of brain hemorrhage will determine if it will kill or not, if it will disable a patient in some way, or if they will fully recover. Of course, that’s just common sense: If the part of your brain that controls your breathing is damaged,  let’s face it, it’s unlikely you’re going to have a good outcome. 

One doctor added that Coleman’s poor health, he had two kidney transplants during his life and was on dialysis, likely made his prognosis grim after his brain injury. 

But then Michaels wasn’t a particularly well man. He had just had his appendix removed and he was a lifelong diabetic. And I believe that Michaels’ physician is jumping the gun by telling the press that the singer has fully recovered, that he is part of the small group of people — only 20 percent — who bounce back like new from this type of brain hemorrhage. 

I have written extensively on my blog,, about apparent full recovery brain injury. Problems can develop later on with people who have sustained brain injury and appear to be back to normal. For example, those who have jobs that require their minds to have a high processing speed may find it harder to claim “full recovery” than those with less taxing jobs.  

And in a recent interview Michaels himself said, “I’m just not back to where I want to be just yet.”

 He performed Memorial Day weekend, and in the interview said, “On stage, normally, I go completely insane and kick ass. This time, I gave 100 percent of my 75 percent.”