Can a coma support the healing process?

Artificial coma

In medicine, the artificial coma is a major intervention that the doctor usually chooses in the event of a life-threatening condition. If you are faced with a serious accident or a major injury, this measure will calmly help you with the healing process. You have the opportunity to get well painlessly in a medically controlled condition and thereby reduce the risk of permanent damage. At the same time, the coma offers a reduction in stress and possible fear reactions that are associated with the impaired state of health.

Definition of artificial coma

An artificial coma is one Form of long-term anesthesia. Your doctor puts the patient into a coma (ancient Greek = deep sleep) with the aid of medication and with cardiovascular monitoring. The patient is in a state of deep unconsciousness from which he cannot be awakened even with the usual stimuli, for example a targeted pain stimulus.

In order to initiate the anesthesia, drugs are used on the one hand anesthetics and on the other hand pain relievers. Nutrition takes place either via a nasogastric tube or, alternatively, intravenously (via the vein) directly into the bloodstream.

Reasons for an artificial coma

The main reason for a controlled long-term anesthetic is usually that discharge of the human body after a serious injury. If the body needs special protection and recovery resources as a result of an accident or a complex operation, an artificial coma can offer valuable help. It ensures that the body focuses exclusively on the Healing process focused and thus regenerated more optimally. Severe head injuries or even the need for one artificial respiration are often associated with an artificial coma.

Duration of long-term anesthesia

The time frame that the doctor sets for an artificial coma is based on the severity and type of illness. In principle, the duration is a few hours, but also if necessary several months. Usually the exact period during the coma is decided by yourself. It essentially depends on the course of recovery and the associated recovery of the body. In principle, long-term anesthesia does not last longer than is necessary for adequate recovery.

A very long period of anesthesia results occasionally to complicationssuch as inflammation of the lungs.

Depth of an artificial coma

The coma depth is depends on the underlying disease and the individual patient's condition. The deeper the doctor applies the sedation, the lower the likelihood of accidental waking up. If there are significant injuries, such as a traumatic brain injury, a rather deep coma makes sense. Even after serious accidents in which the brain needs relief, the sedation is lower.

The awakening

If there is a clear improvement in health and the underlying disease has been stabilized, the doctor will gradually guide it Wake-up phase a. Depending on the duration and depth of the anesthesia reduced he with it gradually the medication. The time course often takes several days. A period of a few weeks is also possible if the patient is older or if the underlying disease is particularly severe.

The vegetative coma is a special case here. If the patient does not fully reach consciousness in the waking phase, a vegetative coma is possible as a transitional stage.

Risks and possible consequential damage

A coma, especially if it lasts for a long time, always harbors certain risks and the risk of possible consequential damage. Older patients in particular have the option of one Delirium, one Form of disorientation. That too Not waking up after stopping the medication is an option, but it is usually related to a significant underlying disease. A number of patients complain for some time

  • Circulatory problems,
  • Nightmares as well
  • Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.

However, these phenomena usually gradually disappear completely.

Rehabilitation measures after the coma

Often many things apply after you've been in a coma and on artificial respiration to learn anew. In addition to the self-employed Breathing and swallowing count above all all motion sequences to. Specialists from the disciplines of neurology, physiotherapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy are available for rehabilitation. You have the option of yourself familiar movement sequences as well as sensory and motor skills to acquire again under guidance. In the case of lost functions, you will learn how to acquire and implement skills and abilities by activating other areas of the brain.

Rehab goals

The so-called neurological rehabilitation (from Latin rehabilitatio = restoration) takes place in different phases and has the purpose little by little as much independence as possible to achieve. After the artificial coma and the associated intensive medical care, this is primarily about the Re-acquisition of functions and skills. These include, for example, language and motor skills. Particularly athletic and young patients have a good chance of a comprehensive recovery. The rehabilitation measure as a whole enables a way back in activity and performance.

Duration of rehabilitation

The duration of rehab depends on the person Length of the previous artificial coma and the associated severity of the original disease. Also Age and physical capacity play an essential role. In many cases, the rehabilitation measure provides assistance in returning to an active life. The corresponding relearning of everyday skills takes place gradually and takes time Weeks, months if necessary, but also years. It is often necessary to stabilize individual skills that have been acquired again before another stage of rehabilitation can be carried out.


In the case of an artificial coma, the doctor moves the body with the help of sedative and pain reliever drugs in a Long-term anesthesia. This is done to support him, for example, after a serious traffic accident or a complicated stroke.

The vital functions are monitored and the body is relieved so that all resources are available for healing. After the coma, from which the patient is awakened by gradually reducing the medication, is usually followed by rehab. This serves to relearn skills lost due to illness and, if possible, enables the patient to gradually return to everyday life.

Last changed on: 02/21/2020

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