Joan Rivers passed away today, Sept. 4, at the age of 81.
Joan Rivers is slowly being brought out of her medically induced coma by doctors at Mount Sinai Hospital, according to the latest health update on Sept. 1 from the New York Daily News. However the 81-year-old comedienne is in critical condition and remains on life support. There is real concern that Joan’s motor skills may be compromised due to oxygen deprivation to her brain following cardiac and respiratory arrest three days ago.
The waking up process has already begun and could take several days. According to USA Today on Aug 30, a study at Johns Hopkins Medical Center found that patients in Joan Rivers’ situation can take up to five to seven days to fully wake up.
In situations like Joan’s, doctors use medically induced comas and mild hypothermia to limit neurological function and slow down metabolism and other vital functions. This allows the brain to heal following oxygen deprivation, and reduces the odds of long-term brain damage.
Usually, after 24 to 48 hours, doctors will gradually begin bringing the patient out of the coma to determine how much oxygen loss was suffered. This is what Mount Sinai doctors are now doing with Joan. The next step will be withdrawal of life support see whether Joan is able to breathe on her own.
As previously mentioned, there is real concern that the part of Joan’s brain which controls her motors skills may have been compromised. The full extent of the damage cannot be determined until Tuesday, at the earliest.
As of this morning, Joan Rivers is still breathing with the help of life support machines. Family members are hopeful that if life support machines are turned off, Joan’s condition will improve. However, because of Joan Rivers’ advanced age, the chances of her regaining consciousness and returning to health do not look good. If she survives the removal of her life support, Joan could face many weeks or months of physical therapy to regain motor skills. Or she could end up permanently impaired.