1. JadeX
    Offline

    JadeX Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2015
    Messages:
    227
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Ohio, U.S. of A.

    If someone were to be knocked out for a week or more

    Discussion in 'Research' started by JadeX, Mar 5, 2016.

    I'm working on a short film in which a catastrophic earthquake strikes the US east coast, triggering a tsunami and causing a handful of nuclear power reactors to melt down. My sole character wakes up some time after this Fukushima-esque triad of events with no idea what happened and completely alone in an evacuated, irradiated, earthquake-torn Baltimore.

    Him waking up some time afterwards is crucial to the premise, as the idea is that he is totally alone and left to himself to struggle through confusion and survival.

    My question is, how long could a person remain unconscious after a severe trauma such as an earthquake (or accident, building collapse, etc)? What kind of brain damage might they suffer, and how would this affect their memory, motor skills, reasoning, and behaviour? It is these effects that will likely shape much of what the film consists of.

    I've already familiarized myself with the effects of radiation exposure, but now I need to know how his injury will affect him. (the exact nature of his injury is unknown, but most likely head trauma from falling building debris)
     
  2. PBNJDraftNumbA
    Offline

    PBNJDraftNumbA Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2016
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    47
    I suggest looking into http://www.rehab.research.va.gov/ and searching "unconscious." I found the following article interesting; albeit, it is not about earthquake-induced trauma. www.rehab.research.va.gov/jour/09/46/6/pdf/kocsis.pdf But it does give insight on related injuries and recovery.

    Here is a line from the second link above:
    Upon regaining consciousness,these soldiers reported
    severe headache, tinnitus, retrograde and anterograde
    amnesia, tremors, and hypersensitivity to noise [4–6].

    I think this might help you consider after-effects.
     
  3. doggiedude
    Offline

    doggiedude Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2016
    Messages:
    1,454
    Likes Received:
    1,250
    Location:
    Florida, USA, Earth, The Sol System
    Usually when someone is just "knocked out" and they recover without outside help it's within the first 24 hours. Anything longer than that and the person is going to have dehydration issues at the very least. And if your MC is waking up in an area of radiation he's going to have bigger problems.
     
  4. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    If you want reality, you have some serious problems. A person unconscious in the rubble for a week would likely die of dehydration and kidney failure.

    Add severe trauma and you get a massive release of the byproducts of muscle damage. Sometimes crush injuries kill earthquake victims even if they are rescued alive.

    Perhaps you need to have the person trapped but less injured.
     
    JadeX likes this.
  5. SethLoki
    Offline

    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2011
    Messages:
    597
    Likes Received:
    483
    Location:
    Manchester UK
    Was this gotten around in the story 28 Days Later? Where the protagonist was originally in a coma in a hospital and hooked up to various machines of life support. He woke naturally way after an apocalyptic event to find himself alone.

    What about having your guy unconscious for a day but trapped in a collapsed building for the week thereafter in a pitch black void space (with poss some leaking water nearby). Most senses deprived then but at least some access to sustenance?
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2016
    JadeX likes this.
  6. Jack Asher
    Offline

    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    3,571
    Likes Received:
    2,054
    Location:
    Denver
    It was, but realistically he would have died on the first day the nurses left his bedside.

    As far as being knocked out...
    You'll notice that football player and boxers suffer periodic bouts of imposed unconsciousness. You'll also notice that this periods of unconsciousness last an average of three minutes or less. If someone is out for 3 - 5 minutes they need to go to a hospital immediately. There is a very good chance that they have a concussion. Longer than 5 minutes and they are probably suffering some permanent trauma, or they're bleeding into their skull.

    A situation in which your protagonist has enough brain damage to leave him unconsciousness for an hour or more is going to leave lasting an permanent damage. And that to pretty much everything that the brain does: speech, hearing, memory, motor control, sight, impulse control, temperament, etc. If it happens in the brain and isn't his ability to breath or keep his heart beating (which we have to assume would still be functional, if he's moving around) it's irreparably damaged.

    And a situation in which your protagonist is unconsciousness for longer than 3 hours is more (much more) than enough to simply render him a corpse.
     
  7. JadeX
    Offline

    JadeX Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2015
    Messages:
    227
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Ohio, U.S. of A.
    It may be worth mentioning that this character is not actually intended to "survive" - he wanders around a bit, trying to make his way home, but after slowly piecing together what has happened he realises he's pretty well fucked and the film ends with him blowing his brains out with a dead soldier's pistol. Yeah, it's depressing. No happy endings here, sorry.

    So I only need him to be alive (after awakening) for just a couple days or so, so I'm willing to deal with brain damage as long as he's still able to function on some level.

    It seems the general consensus so far is that it's unlikely he'd be knocked unconscious outright for a week, right?

    I had read a survival story once in which a teenager was trapped under a collapsed building and was there for over a week, so long that his father even dug a grave for him, but he survived because he was in an "air pocket" of sorts and he knew that if he slept as much as possible, his body wouldn't need as much air/water/food. He got out alive by simply forcing himself to sleep until he was found (in this case they knew he was there).

    Would it be better if a similar situation were applied to my character? (obviously my MC won't be found by anyone, but perhaps an aftershock would shift things out of place enough to allow him to climb out). That way he wouldn't have to be consistently unconscious for the entire time, but it would still allow for the time passage I want. Is this better?
     
  8. Jack Asher
    Offline

    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    3,571
    Likes Received:
    2,054
    Location:
    Denver
    "as much" air, water, and food is not "no" air, water, and food. That story is not realistic, and if you want your story to be realistic you have to find a different avenue.
     
  9. SethLoki
    Offline

    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2011
    Messages:
    597
    Likes Received:
    483
    Location:
    Manchester UK
    That'd do it for me: aftershock or even better the discovery of a way out through persistence and the desperation to escape. The key thing for me is a reason for the character still having a certain level of energy after such a time without the reader sensing things have been over contrived—he was in a store or canteen perhaps when the disaster struck?
     
  10. doggiedude
    Offline

    doggiedude Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2016
    Messages:
    1,454
    Likes Received:
    1,250
    Location:
    Florida, USA, Earth, The Sol System
    You could easily just have the MC trapped in a deep basement with some basic supplies. A water pipe that is still dripping water, maybe it's a restaurant's basement that has canned food. Then he spends a week digging himself out of a blocked exit.
     

Share This Page