Laurin’s Condition: What Is Locked-In Syndrome?

I realize that many of Laurin’s friends and supporters may be unclear about what her current condition actually is. Just so you know, she is not in a coma. She is not in a vegetative state. Neither is she brain-dead. Her condition is most closely related to “locked-in syndrome.” She is conscious, self-aware and has intellect. She is able to respond on a limited level.

Laurin Lupe GJ w

Locked-in syndrome is usually a result of a stroke, but can be caused by trauma to the head. It occurs when there is damage to the lower brain/brainstem. In the most severe cases, the patient appears to be in a coma and can only move their eyes a little. They still have all their senses, but cannot move or talk. We know this, because, though extremely rare, there have been a few cases of a patient recovering from locked-in syndrome. Those patients were a valuable source of information about what it’s like for someone with locked-in syndrome.

Laurin is a little bit less severe than the worst cases since she can move her head a bit and can make slight vocal sounds. She has a complete range of facial expressions, so you can definitely tell how she’s responding to various stimuli around her. She may laugh at your jokes or get teary-eyed when you sing her a meaningful song. She is simply trapped inside a body that won’t do what she wants it to.

Laurin's nurses use a power lift to move her from bed to bath or wheelchair.

Laurin’s nurses use a power lift to move her from bed to bath or wheelchair.

Being unable to communicate with others is quite possibly the most frustrating aspect of Laurin’s condition. One way you can help is to establish the “one blink for no and two blinks for yes” code. Then ask her yes/no questions and watch her eye blinks. This is one way we know Laurin is still “in there” and able to think!

Another way we have to communicate with Laurin is the eye-gaze computer. It follows her eye movements and she can learn to control the computer with just her eyes. I will write more about the computer in another post sometime soon. So far Laurin has only had limited opportunities to learn and practice on this computer. She seems to be pretty excited about it, though!

Laurin checks out her eye-gaze computer. Gotta love technology!

Laurin checks out her eye-gaze computer. Gotta love technology!

Keep an eye on this blog, and “like” Laurin’s Facebook page to get the latest info:

If YOU have a fundraising idea you’d like to try, please let us know.

If you can give towards Laurin’s medical expenses, please make your check payable to “We Love Laurin Special Needs Trust” and mail it to 605 N. McColl Circle, McAllen, TX 78501. You may also drop your gift checks at Melba’s Dance School during business hours. If you’d prefer to give online, please use the “Donate” button below.


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