Question: I am an Instructor teaching a course on Death and Dying. The question I have is this: Can some or all of the functions of the Cerebrum and/or Cerebellum ever survive the death or injury of the Brainstem?
Answer: As you may know, the brainstem is the area of the brain that is responsible for the automatic functions of the body that we don;t really ever think about such as breathing, heart rate, respiration, swallowing, etc. When a person has injured their brainstem, they typically fall into an unresponsive state for a period of time while the brain heals. Sometimes people come out of this coma state and other times, they are truly "brain dead" where their brainstem is unable to resume these critical functions. It really depends on the type of injury, the severity of the injury and other factors such as how soon the person received medical care following their injury, etc. It can be hard to predict who will recover and who will not recover.
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