Even if Bobbi Kristina Brown comes out of the medically induced coma she was placed in after being found unresponsive in a bathtub at her home in Roswell, Georgia, the chances are overwhelming that she will never be the same again.
“It really sounds like a complete recovery would be almost impossible,” said Rachael Ross, family medicine physician and recurring host of syndicated series “The Doctors.”
“Just based off my own personal experience and my own clinical experience, it really sounds bad,” Ross told TheWrap about Brown’s condition.
The 21-year-old daughter of Bobby Brown and late singer Whitney Houston was reportedly placed in a coma and connected to a ventilator after being discovered face-down in her bathtub on Jan. 31. Ross said doctors would have placed her in a coma to give her brain time to heal, with hopes that neurological function would return as the patient regains consciousness.
“If the brain is doing no work — it doesn’t have to metabolize anything, it doesn’t have to think — then what we can do is, we can prevent [her brain] from swelling any further, and we can potentially buy her some time and let it heal up,” Ross offered.
Reports that Brown had suffered seizures, Ross added, would indicate that her brain “hasn’t really recovered.”
According to Ross, Brown has now reached a point where, if a patient still “basically shows no brain activity,” doctors typically begin to discuss taking the patient off of life support.
“Generally speaking, if someone stays in a coma longer than anywhere from two to four weeks, that’s a bad sign,” Ross explained. “We consider that a decline where we as physicians are talking to the family about withdrawing support.”
An attorney for Bobbi Kristina’s father,
“What happens, as you can imagine, this is your loved one, and you maintain hope,” Ross said. “You keep thinking that a miracle could possibly happen. So a lot of times it’s really hard to get the family to turn off and withdraw support.”
In such cases, Ross noted, doctors can petition the hospital’s ethics committee, presenting their data to make a case to withdraw life support.
Bobbi Kristina’s family has not responded to TheWrap’s requests for comment on her condition. But Ross said they still have reason to be hopeful. “Miracles do happen every day,” she noted.
One factor that, perhaps ironically, could help the celebrity offspring achieve that miracle — the presence of her boyfriend, Nick Gordon. Brown and Gordon’s relationship has been marked by controversy, and Gordon has reportedly been barred from visiting her in the hospital. But his reported banishment could be a mistake, Ross cautioned.
“I would venture to say that it’s counterproductive,” Ross said, “particularly when it’s someone that they love. There are plenty of studies that show that positive energy and people hearing music that they love, hearing the voices of loved ones, is an important part of recovery.”
Should Brown emerge from her coma, Ross said, she has a long road to travel on the path to wellness.
“If she does come out of it and she does survive, I think that her quality of life would be severely changed. She would probably have to relearn a lot of the functions that she used to know, like talking, walking,” Ross told TheWrap.
While Ross explained that it “would take anywhere from six months to a year or so” for Brown to regain full functionality, the duration of her recovery would largely be dependent on her mindset.
“If Bobbi Kristina was depressed [in the period leading up to the bathtub incident] … then she’s going to have a hard time learning everything, because she’s going to come out of it and still be depressed,” Ross offered. “Whereas if she comes out hopeful, and is ready to just survive and really live, then she’s going to have an easier [time] of it.”