Posted By CCF Neurosurgery MD on February 10, 1998 at 17:11:43:
In Reply to: Brain Stem Function posted by Matt Turner on February 10, 1998 at 15:56:03:
: On Sept 17th '97 my 26 year old wife suffered a collapsed lung that caused up to 20 minutes of restricted air flow to her brain. She went into a coma and 4 days later began to "posture".
About a month ago, in the nursing home, her heart stopped and she stopped breathing; later they revived her at a local hospital.
An EEG was done at the hospital and we were told she has brain stem function only and that recovery is not likely.
What function does she have?
What is the possible life expectancy?
Dear Mr. Turner:
If the tests performed on your wife were done in an accurate manner and if what you have been told is accurate then this is what you may expect.
The human brain stem is the lower most part of the brain and controls some very basic functions. The most basic function is the control of heart beats and spontaneous breathing. Other more complex functions may include control of eye movements and some of the sensation and movements of the head and neck. Many of the functions of the brain stem are under direct control of the cortex (the higher part of the brain). Given the injury she has suffered, she most likely will never be able to respond to her environment in a meaningful manner. She will not be able to care for herself (feeding and other daily functions). Depending on how much damage she has had to her brainstem, she may or may not be awake (with having her eyes open). This function level may range from what is known as persistent vegetative state to coma. It is difficult to accurately predict what life expectancy is in these cases. Some patients survive for months to years. Others succumb because of other complications (such as heart stopping, infections, etc....). I am sure that this has been very hard for you. You may wish to discuss her situation with her doctors as they are more aware of all the details of her care. I hope this information will help you.
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