Gang Starr’s Guru in Coma

Rapper Guru is reported to be in a coma after suffering a heart attack yesterday. Born Keith Elam, 43-year-old is best known as half of the duo Gang Starr, along with partner DJ Premier. According to MTV, Gang Starr teamed together to help define the New York underground rap sound in the early ’90s. Guru is set to undergo surgery today at a hospital in New York. No further details are known about the rapper’s condition.

What is a coma?

A coma is a state of prolonged unconsciousness from which a person cannot be aroused. It can be caused by a wide variety of problems — traumatic head injury, stroke, brain tumor, or  an underlying illness, such as diabetes or an infection. Therefore, recovery from a coma depends largely on the cause.

Stupor is unresponsiveness from which a person can be aroused only by vigorous, physical stimulation.

The Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) is a neurological scale that aims to give a reliable, objective way of recording the conscious state of a person for an initial as well as subsequent assessments. The scale was originally published in 1974 by Graham Teasdale and Bryan J. Jennett, professors of neurosurgery at the University of Glasgow and was used to assess level of consciousness after head injury. A patient is assessed against the criteria of the scale, and the resulting points give a patient score between 3 (indicating deep unconsciousness) and 15 (indicating normal functioning).

Glasgow Coma Scale
1 2 3 4 5 6
Eyes Does not open eyes Opens eyes in response to painful stimuli Opens eyes in response to voice Opens eyes spontaneously N/A N/A
Verbal Makes no sounds Incomprehensible sounds Utters inappropriate words Confused, disoriented Oriented, converses normally N/A
Motor Makes no movements Extension to painful stimuli (decerebrate response)* Abnormal flexion to painful stimuli (decorticate response)* Flexion / Withdrawal to painful stimuli Localizes painful stimuli Obeys commands

* See diagrams below:

Decerebrate posturing with the arms and legs being held straight out, the toes being pointed downward, and the head and neck being arched backwards. The muscles are tightened and held rigidly.

Decorticate posture involves rigidity, flexing of the arms, clenched fists, and extended legs (held out straight). The arms are bent inward toward the body with the wrists and fingers bent and held on the chest.

For more information:

Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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