ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – University of Cincinnati neurologists treating Otto Warmbier, the American citizen just released from a North Korea prison, say he has a severe brain injury, and is in a state of “unresponsive wakefulness.”

SLU Care’s Dr. Nirav Patel is the chief medical officer at SSM Health SLU Hospital — he sees patients like this in the ICU:

“Most frequently this is called a coma, and this is a state where the patient is not able to respond in any meaningful way, but they may have some level of brain activity. They probably don’t have a good sleep wake cycle, and they’re not responding to things like we would expect them to. Not just simple things like to voice or to touch, but sometimes even at the neurological level not having good responses to light or sounds or other painful stimuli,” he says.

Patel says in most cases, the longer this condition goes on, the chance of recovery grows less and less.

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