Locked-in syndrome is almost always permanent, though some patients, with the help of rehabilitation, have been able to regain limited movement in certain muscles. Since locked-in syndrome is a result of generally irreversible brain damage, most treatment options are focused not on recovery but adaptation. Encouragingly, quality of life studies conducted on patients with locked-in syndrome suggest they do not suffer as much as one might expect.
If someone you love suffered a brain injury that led to locked-in syndrome, you may be eligible to recover damages on their behalf. A personal injury lawyer from Newsome | Melton can investigate your loved one’s injury and help you hold the responsible party liable.
Our team offers a free case evaluation, and we do not get paid until we recover money for you. To receive a free case evaluation, call us today at 800-916-7333.
What Is Locked-In Syndrome
Locked-in syndrome is a neurological disorder causing total paralysis in all voluntary muscles except the ones controlling the eyes. It does not affect cognitive function. An affected person, therefore, can still think and see clearly, but cannot move any part of their body or speak. The only way they can communicate is by blinking or making other movements with their eyes.
Aside from eyesight, the only other of the five senses that remains in a person with locked-in syndrome is hearing, though they have limited means by which to acknowledge anything they hear. They are fully aware of their environment and have regular sleep/wake cycles, but rely on caregivers for all basic activities of daily living: eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, and so forth.
What Causes Locked-In Syndrome
Locked-in syndrome results from damage to the pons, a part of the brain stem that hosts neural pathways between the cerebellum and spinal cord. This damage generally results from hemorrhaging or lack of blood flow, but in some instances can be caused by trauma, as well. Blood clots and strokes can cause pons damage, leading to locked-in syndrome, as can certain infections.
Sometimes locked-in syndrome can originate from a medical error. In such cases, the victim and their loved ones may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit against the health care provider responsible for the injury, as well as the facility where the error occurred. A personal injury lawyer from Newsome | Melton can help you pursue a malpractice case.
What Is the Prognosis for Improvement or Recovery From Locked-In Syndrome
It is rare for a patient to make a full or even a substantial partial recovery from locked-in syndrome. Certain causes of the condition, such as a basilar artery blood clot, can be treatable and reversible, but only if addressed within a few hours after the onset of symptoms. Otherwise, the focus of treating a patient with locked-in syndrome should be on adjusting and adapting to the condition, not on mitigating or eradicating it.
Since patients with locked-in syndrome retain their sight, hearing, and cognitive function, they can learn a coded communication system, allowing them to interact with caregivers and loved ones. For instance, they can move their eyes in different patterns to communicate different thoughts, needs, or wants. It is essential for loved ones to be patient and encouraging during this process.
Are There Any New Drugs or Therapies in the Pipeline?
Unfortunately, no effective treatments for locked-in syndrome are in use as of the end of 2018. Stem-cell therapy has been studied as a possible cure or treatment but has been found ineffective and even harmful. Doctors do not propose it as a treatment method, though it may still be used in some research trials.
Several clinical trials of new medicines and therapies are in the works, but no breakthroughs appear to be on the horizon. With the pace of technological advancement, though, it is not outside the realm of possibility that a treatment or cure may emerge in the coming years or decades, giving hope to patients, particularly younger ones, living with locked-in syndrome.
Newsome | Melton is a personal injury law firm that fights for the rights of injured victims. We have fought and won damages for many clients who suffered or had loved ones suffer severe brain injuries.
Our attorneys can help you recover compensation to pay for your loved one’s medical bills and lost earnings, as well as the pain and suffering and emotional anguish that both of you have experienced.
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