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Persistent Unawareness

The transition of a person who remains unconscious from a state of “Coma” to one of “vegetative behaviors” reflects subtle changes over a period of several weeks from a condition of not response to the internal or external environment (except reflexively) to a state of wakefulness but with no indication of awareness (cortical function).  A patient in this state may have a range of biological responses at the sub-cortical level such as eye opening (with sleep and wake rhythms) and sometimes the ability to follow with their eyes.  Normal levels of blood pressure and respiration (vegetative functions) are maintained automatically.  The label “persistent” is not applicable until the person has been unconscious for a year or more.  Also called Coma Vigil.


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