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Disorders of consciousness: Clinical
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One of the many higher-order functions of our brains is maintaining consciousness.
Consciousness includes both arousal or wakefulness, as well as awareness.
The ARAS sends out neuronal connections to both cerebral cortices, which are responsible for producing awareness.
Now, the differential diagnosis for coma is large, but they fall into 4 broad categories: toxic, such as opioid toxicity, infectious, such as sepsis or meningitis and encephalitis, metabolic, which includes electrolyte imbalances or organ dysfunction, and structural, such as a stroke or subdural hemorrhage.
When a person is found to already be in a comatose state, it’s helpful to get information from witnesses, family members, friends, and paramedics, as well as from medical alert bracelets.
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