The brain is considered as an amazing organ with the power to mysteriously heal itself. It is a known fact that the brain cell, or neuron, does not have the capacity to regenerate. Following a trauma to the brain, some of the brain cells deteriorate and die. Though surprisingly, a number of brain trauma patients recover after the injury. There is still no valid proof as to how the brain manages to undergo a healing process.
Without the need for any further explanation, it is possible to recover after a brain trauma. However, the duration and degree of health restoration is unpredictable. The recovery process is composed of different stages. The mechanism of recover starts from the time of injury. The brain function may be altered because of shifts in the brain chemistry, bleeding, and inflammation in the initial weeks following the trauma. Awareness of the environment is still not evident and the eyes are shut. With time, the edema decreases, the circulation and brain chemistry improves and the function of the brain progresses. Later on, the person starts to wake up, follows commands and responds to various stimuli. The whole course is specified into four general stages.
Stages of Recovery
The coma stage is a state of unconsciousness after a severe head trauma. The patient is not asleep but remains unaware of his environment and unresponsive to stimuli. During this stage, there is no sleep-wake cycle. Persons in coma can’t open their eyes, speak nor follow instructions. The patient is unable to communicate with other persons and can’t show emotions.
The vegetative stage is the state at the end of coma but right before reaching consciousness. Patients in vegetative stage may have the ability to open their eyes, undergo sleep-wake patterns but remain without consciousness and awareness. Any observable movements during this stage are not indicative of responsiveness to surroundings but only reflexes. The patient may startle to sound or visual stimulation. Permanent vegetative state is when a patient remains in the said state 3 months after the brain injury as a result of inadequate oxygenation or 1 year after the trauma.
Minimally Conscious Stage
The minimally conscious stage is a state wherein very marginal response to stimuli and awareness to environment are observed. Responses are unlike in comatose or vegetative stage because of inconsistencies in execution. However, the patient can be categorized as conscious. In some cases, there are patients who remain permanently in this stage.
Post Traumatic Amnesia
The post-traumatic amnesia stage is a state regarded by serious setbacks in memory. Though, it does not concern all struggles in relation to memory after a brain trauma. it is technically the stage that comes right after a coma. The most prominent characteristic of this stage is the inability to recall details of everyday experience. As a result, the patient becomes disoriented and confused about the time, places, people and happenings. The person also becomes agitated either from the effects of brain injury or confusion.
These stages are only considered the general levels. There are instances wherein the recovery process stops at one stage and never advance to the next one. There is a gradual shift from one stage to another. The recovery of one patient may have different pace as compared to others. Therefore, it is hard to make comparisons in terms of healing head trauma experience.