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Brain injuries victim dies after being unresponsive for 30 years

Although there have been significant advances in various medical fields, the brain remains a dark area. Dr. Adrian Owen, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging at the Brain and Mind Institute at Western University, Ontario says the manners in which different types of brain injuries affect the victims need continued research. These mysteries were underscored again with the recent death of a police officer who was unresponsive for 30 years.

The deceased man was a police officer in another province who suffered traumatic brain injuries in an on-duty car accident in 1987. Although he was in a coma for some months after the crash, he came out of the coma and went through cycles of sleeping and being awake with open eyes and breathing on his own. His wife says she was with him every day during the past 30 years and maintains she could see flickering in his eyes and even the occasional raised eyebrow when she talked about their son who was a teenager at the time of the accident.

Dr. Owen calls this the gray zone and says one in five vegetative or unresponsive patients have levels of awareness. He says a father from yet another province frequently took his son, who was unresponsive for 17 years, to the movies. When the doctor used brain scans to monitor the man's brain while watching a movie that he had viewed numerous times, the scans showed his brain responding to all the twists and turns in the film's plot.

Anyone in Ontario who has to deal with the long-term consequences of a loved one's brain injuries may be overwhelmed by the costs of ongoing medical care and treatments. If another person's negligence caused the circumstances that led to the injuries, there might be grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. An experienced lawyer might be able to secure a monetary judgement that will include future medical expenses along with other damages.

Source: timescolonist.com, "Brain injury mystery: Victoria police officer 'unresponsive' but still flickers of life", Katie DeRosa, April 17, 2018

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