Locked-In Syndrome

Your brain controls every process and function that takes place within your body. Forming your thoughts and memories, every organ and muscle takes instruction from the brain, and all of your sensory systems transmit information to it. 

Certain brain injuries can cut that connection your brain has with the rest of your body, leaving you fully conscious but with a total lack of control over your body. Locked-in syndrome is one such brain injury, and while rare, its impacts are catastrophic

Should you or a loved one suffer from the effects of locked-in syndrome in Atlanta, GA, Malone Law can review the circumstances and advise you of your options for seeking compensation under Georgia law. Contact our Atlanta medical malpractice attorneys for a free initial consultation by calling (770) 390-7550 to discuss your legal options.

How Malone Law Can Help You Pursue a Claim for Locked-In Syndrome in Atlanta, GA

How Malone Law Can Help You Pursue a Claim for Locked-In Syndrome in Atlanta, GA

Since 1965, Malone Law has assisted severely injured clients and their families throughout Atlanta, Georgia. We are pioneers in complex injury and wrongful death litigation. Our Atlanta brain injury lawyers have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for injured people.

If you or a family member suffers an injury, our lawyers will provide you with the following:

  • A free case review to evaluate your claim and explain your legal options
  • Gathering evidence and filing any insurance claims against the other party
  • Negotiations with opposing parties for a fair settlement
  • Preparation and filing of a lawsuit if we cannot resolve (or settle) your insurance claim

A brain injury as severe as locked-in syndrome can leave you or a loved one with stacks of medical bills and no way of paying them. Do not hesitate to contact our Atlanta medical malpractice attorneys to discuss how we can help you pursue compensation for these injuries.

Who Gets Locked-In Syndrome?

Locked-in syndrome, as mentioned above, is thankfully a rare occurrence. A 1986 study identified only 139 cases between 1959 and 1983, as described in medical journals. That said, based on the published cases, locked-in syndrome has a very high mortality rate of 60%. In other words, nearly two-thirds of patients with locked-in syndrome die from it. 

The average age of patients with the condition was 52 years, although the cases described patients ranging in age from 19 all the way to 90 years. Additionally, men were slightly more likely to be diagnosed with the syndrome than women.

According to the study, the majority of cases resulted from a “vascular event,” such as a stroke or bleeding in the brain. Other causes of this neurological condition include trauma, cancer, infection, and the demyelination of brain cells.

What Are the Causes and Effects of Locked-In Syndrome?

Your brain connects to your body via the spinal cord and to your head and face by way of the cranial nerves. If you suffer a spinal cord injury, the cranial nerves usually remain intact. As a result, those with quadriplegia, paraplegia, or other spinal cord injuries will often retain control of their head and face, generally remaining able to talk, swallow, and turn their heads.

Locked-in syndrome affects more areas than a spinal cord injury because it occurs directly in the brain, namely the brainstem, which serves as the communications center for your brain. An area of your brainstem — the pons — coordinates all signals running between your brain and your body, as well as some that run to and from your cranial nerves.

With that said, a brainstem injury can cut off the brain from most of the body, leading to the development of locked-in syndrome, which combines aspects of quadriplegia and a cranial nerve injury. 

Locked-in syndrome can take three forms:

  • Incomplete: The patient is conscious and maintains partial body sensation and movement
  • Classical: The patient only retains eye control alongside consciousness
  • Total: The patient only retains their consciousness

The result of any of these forms is that an otherwise fully functioning and conscious brain is “locked in” a body that it cannot control. 

It is impossible to overstate how devastating the condition is. In most cases, the patient retains all or most of their cognitive abilities, but they cannot move, swallow, or turn their heads. In most cases, they can only communicate through blinking.

Causes of Locked-In Syndrome

Locked-in syndrome forms when something disrupts or damages the brainstem. The most common involves a clot that blocks blood flow to the brain stem. The brain cells die as a result, cutting off the connections they maintain.

Trauma can also sever the integral connection. A foreign object can penetrate the brain and damage the brainstem. For example, a piece of metal could pierce your skull and damage your brainstem in a truck accident.

Other causes might involve medical malpractice or medication errors. A doctor may prescribe the wrong drug, leading to a stroke, or they may misdiagnose a stroke, preventing their patient from receiving the treatment they need to avoid brainstem damage.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation With Our Atlanta Brain Injury Lawyers

Locked-in syndrome has remarkably ruinous effects that may cause permanent disability or even death. Contact Malone Law by calling 770) 390-7550 for a free consultation to learn how we can help you or a loved one pursue compensation for the effects of the injury and condition. Contact us; our Atlanta personal injury lawyers are here to assist when you need us most.