Historically, it has been difficult for even doctors to predict to what degree patients who had suffered severe head trauma would be able to recover consciousness. Now, however, researchers have determined that the rate at which an injured person's brain consumes glucose (metabolism) can predict if that person will regain consciousness within the years. The study's findings could help inform the prognosis of brain injury patients in the context of personal injury law suits, making it easier for doctors and lawyers to predict with more accuracy the future medical needs and costs of a patient who is may be unable to communicate after an accident.
In short, the researchers discovered that brain-injured patients who achieved a threshold level of glucose metabolism in the brain during recovery had a better chance at regaining consciousness within a year than those patients who failed to meet the metabolic threshold.
Medicine is not an exact science, and it's difficult for any one test to predict with 100 percent certainty the outcome of a particular patient's recovery. But the new discovery adds another element to the toolkit that doctors (and lawyers) have at their disposal to determine an informed prognosis. If, for example, a physician can predict based on low brain metabolism that a particular patient would be unable to regain consciousness, that prognosis would inform the amount of compensation an attorney could justifiably seek for long-term care and other expenses associated with the injury.
While this research is new and therefore not likely to achieve immediate and wide acceptance in the legal community, it's encouraging to know that there may be sophisticated methods previously unavailable to us by which we might peer into the workings of the brain to predict prognosis and more accurately assess future medical costs.