Persistent vegetative state
A term used to describe a type of indefinite, deep coma (unresponsiveness to stimuli and unconsciousness). The condition is brought on by damage to areas of the brain that control the higher mental functions. Even though the eyes may open and close and there can be random movements of the head and limbs, there is no response to a stimuli such as pain. Only basic functions, such as heartbeat and breathing, are maintained due to functioning of the brain stem. There is not a treatment to reverse the situation; with quality nursing care, survival for a number of years is possible.