When someone is badly injured and left in a coma, there’s very little that their loved ones can do. They worry, they wait and they wonder if their family member or friend will ever wake up again. Up until recently, doctors couldn’t do much better.
It isn’t easy to tell the difference between a patient who is in a vegetative state and one who is minimally conscious, but the patient with minimal consciousness has a chance of recovery. Knowing the difference not only helps doctors decide on treatment plans, but it can also help family members make decisions about life support and other medical care with less doubt and heartache.
Doctors who hazard a guess about a patient’s condition end up being wrong about 40% of the time, which isn’t particularly comforting to anyone.
Recently doctors and families have gained a new tool that can help, and it’s surprisingly simple. According to researchers , a simple “sniff test” that exposes the comatose patient to strong smells and measures their breathing in response can accurately show that patient’s likelihood of regaining consciousness. The study indicated that 100% of the patients who reacted to scent improved, and 91% of those patients were still alive three years later. By comparison, 63% of those who failed the sniff test had died by the three-year mark.
If your loved one suffered a catastrophic injury that included brain damage, no amount of money can ever make things right again. Compensation can, however, help you provide for your loved one’s medical care and other needs and help stabilize your family financially.