Do people in long-term comas grow old?

Have there been any instances of children in long term comas growing up, growing bigger and older?

Or adults reaching senility?

Does the body just grow as normal, or are there differences?

People in comas grow older just as ‘normal’ people do. A coma is merely a mental state (like sleeping except you’re not asleep). Other than that the body continues just as it would were the person conscious.

As for becoming senile I don’t know how or even if that could be determined given the ‘unconscious’ (I know that isn’t exactly correct) state.

As an aside to people in comas sleep? By hooking them up to an EEG can it be determined that there is an ‘awake’ coma and an ‘asleep’ coma?

Yes. Read Awakenings by Oliver Sacks. Although that wasn’t so much a coma as a variant of Parkinson’s.

And there is this poor girl:

In a coma, muscles atrophy, so I’d think that there would be abnormalities.

What’s the longest anyone has ever been in a coma and then awakened?

Can you imagine watching your daughter grow from a toddler to an adult while lying, unmoving, in a hospital bed?
I can’t.

Ooh, I’m gonna keep an eye on this thread… I’ve been developing an idea for a script in which a pre-pubescent girl is put into a coma, comes out of it when she’s into her 20’s (miraculously, without significant physical damage to her brain), and learns how to cope with this, in essence, instant adulthood.

SPOOFE, Hollywood depictions (like the Dead Zone) aside, it seldom happens that someone who’s been in a coma for an extended period of time recovers without substantial mental deficits. It’s not my field, so I won’t say it never happens, but you should do some research before you make this a central part of your plot.

SPOOFE, there was a book I read as a youngster, by like Christopher Pike or somebody, in which this girl was put into a coma when her mother was killed. She then awakes at age seventeen or so, completely weirded out by her adult status.

And in kind of a deus ad machina (i know, i know- whatever), she was in a weird coma, where she could be led around and aided in basic hygiene- and movement-based activities (so but she could walk and everything when she woke up).


I read a book somewhat like this. It was called The Other Side of Dark, and was written by Joan Lowery Nixon. It involved a girl going into a coma when she was maybe 12 or 13, and waking up when she was 16 or 17. So not exactly pre-pubescent, but she had some issues to deal with.

that’s the book! it was the boyfriend, right?


Also of interest is Between the Darkness and the Dawn, a 1985 made-for-TV movie. It starred Elizabeth Montgomery as a woman who goes into a coma at the age of 17, and awakes one day decades later, unaware that time has elapsed. I recall that the scene where her mother explains that her little sister got married and moved away, and that she is now in her 30s (or 40s?), is pretty riveting. A good deal of the plot centered around how the man her sister married had been Montgomery’s “steady” at the time she slipped into the coma. There is also, of course, a bit about how she can’t believe that the star of Death Valley Days was elected President.

The story was fictional. Similar issues are dealt with in Ira Levin’s novel Son of Rosemary, his rather disappointing sequel to Rosemary’s Baby. It starts out with Rosemary awakening after decades in a coma, and learning that her son is now an international celebrity. She then has to figure out if he is really the heroic do-gooder he is taken to be, or if it is all a diabolical pose.