Coma and brain death

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The difference between coma and brain death is that patients can recover from coma. They can't recover from brain death. Kind of like the difference between having a cold, and being Welsh.


Medical Emergency - New Onset Coma is an immediate reason to worry, start crying, and perhaps call a real doctor!


A coma is a deep state of unconciousness. Unlike sleep, they cannot wake up, respond to pain or perform voluntary actions. The most widely recognised way of diagnosing a coma is through the Glasgow Coma Scale:

Coma patients are sometimes known as vegetables. Which is odd, because I'm pretty sure they don't count as one of your 5 a day.


  1. Makes no movements.
  2. Extension on pain
  3. Abnormal flexion on pain.
  4. Withdrawal/flexion on pain.
  5. Localises painful stimuli.
  6. Moves on command.


  1. Makes no sounds.
  2. Makes noises.
  3. Makes words, but no sense.
  4. Confused conversation.
  5. Normal conversation.


  1. Does not open eyes.
  2. Opens eyes to pain.
  3. Opens eyes to voice.
  4. Opens eyes spontaneously.

Score Your score is out of 15.

  • >13. Sorry, you only have a mild problem. Maybe try some trauma?
  • 9-12. You have a moderate coma. With a little work, you may still make it!
  • <9. Well done! You have a severe coma.


Nice differential for coma: AEIOUTIPS

  • Alcohol
  • Epilepsy
  • Infection
  • Overdose
  • Uraemia
  • Trauma
  • Insulin
  • Poison
  • Stroke

Brain Death