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Locked in syndrome is a rare neurological disorder in which there is complete paralysis of all voluntary muscles except for the ones that control movement of the eyes. Individuals with locked-in syndrome are conscious and awake, but have no ability to speak or move.

Patients are often initially comatose before gradually regaining consciousness, but remain paralyzed. They typically cannot voluntarily eat, breathe, speak, or produce many movements other than those involving the eyes or eyelids. Affected people are bedridden and completely reliant on caregivers. Despite this, cognitive function is unaffected.

The disorder resembles a coma, but people with locked-in syndrome are alert and aware of their environment. They can hear, see and can comprehend people talking or reading to them.

Causes of Locked in Syndrome

Locked-in syndrome can result from any condition that destroys the middle part of the brain stem, most commonly a stroke. Other causes include:

•    Guillain-Barré syndrome
•    Tumors
•    Infections (in or surrounding the brain stem)
•    Traumatic brain injury
•    Prescription error
•    Diseases of the circulatory system

Locked In Syndrome Risks

Locked in syndrome is a disorder that can affect individuals of all ages including children. It is, however, most often seen in adults more at risk for stroke and bleeding.

Diagnosis & Treatment

A diagnosis of the brain disorder is usually made clinically. A variety of tests may be performed to rule out other conditions. Imaging tests of the brain, such as MRI and CT are done to determine the cause, and locate any treatable disorders that may be contributing to the problem.

Because this syndrome can be mistaken for stupor or coma, doctors test people who do not move and appear unresponsive by asking them to open and close their eyes.

Treatment options focus on the underlying cause of the disorder. Tumors, for example, may be treated with steroids or radiation. Rehabilitation and various supportive therapies are very beneficial and should be started as early as possible.

Recovery depends on the cause and its severity. In rare cases, some individuals recover limited motor abilities, however, recovery is seldom complete. Most people need permanent full-time nursing care.


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Joseph Lyon has 17 years of experience representing individuals in complex litigation matters. He has represented individuals in every state against many of the largest companies in the world.

The Firm focuses on single-event civil cases and class actions involving corporate neglect & fraud, toxic exposure, product defects & recalls, medical malpractice, and invasion of privacy.


The Firm offers contingency fees, advancing all costs of the litigation, and accepting the full financial risk, allowing our clients full access to the legal system while reducing the financial stress while they focus on their healthcare and financial needs.

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Rightful compensation for plaintiffs can recover sizable settlements and can help pay for mounting medical expenses and other damages that may include long-term disability, rehabilitation, pain and suffering and lost wages. During some of the toughest times in a family’s life, The Lyon Firm can be of assistance.


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Many of my clients come to me in the hardest moments of their lives. They’ve suffered catastrophic injury, they’ve lost a family member, their business has suffered a catastrophic loss that they may not be able to overcome.

It’s a fear of the future and uncertainty that has driven them to come to a lawyer and to ask, ‘What available legal rights are there?’ in order to add some security for their future. The Lyon Firm takes the lead and guides clients through the process of filing catastrophic injury lawsuits.