A WOMAN is paralysed from head-to-toe and can only communicate using her eyes after smoking cocaine.
The 51-year-old lady, from Maryland in the US, is now a prisoner in her own body after the deadly drug triggered a devastating brain-stem stroke.
The unnamed woman has since been diagnosed with locked-in syndrome – meaning she can think, see and feel but cannot talk, eat or move any muscles apart from her eyes.
It comes after The Sun launched the End Of The Line campaign – with soaring cocaine use creating a mental health crisis, destroying families and leaving people with horrifying physical deformities.
Medics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine revealed this case in the Journal of Medical Case Reports to raise awareness of the dangers of cocaine use.
They explain how the obese African-American woman was rushed to hospital in February 2015 by her boyfriend after she started acting erratically and struggled to string sentences together.
Doctors noted that her pupils were dilated and sluggishly reactive to light.
They ordered urgent blood tests which revealed she was high on crack cocaine and had taken opioids earlier that day.
Despite this, her heart rate, temperature and blood pressure were relatively normal for her weight and age.
The woman was sedated and kept in hospital, however, when she sobered up her health began to dramatically deteriorate.
What is locked-in syndrome?
Locked-in syndrome is when a person is completely aware and conscious but they cannot communicate verbally as they are virtually completely paralysed.
The sufferers are sometimes able to communicate as they can move their eyes in vertically and they can also blink.
Total locked-in syndrome is when the sufferer is not even able to communicate with eye movements as their eyes are paralysed as well.
Locked-in syndrome is caused when there is damage to specific parts of the lower brain and brainstem but no damage to the upper brain.
This can occur in a number of circumstances including:
- When a person has been poisoned, particularly by a krait snake
- When someone suffers from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – which is more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease and motor neurone disease
- When someone has suffered from a stroke in their brainstem
- When someone suffers Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- When someone has a lesion in their brain stem
There is no treatment and no cure available for the horrific syndrome.
Just three days after being admitted to hospital, she was no long able to move her limbs.
And by day four, she was minimally responsive and was only able to communicate with vertical eye movements.
A CT scan showed that blood was no longer pumping through her basilar artery – the brain stem which helps it flow around the body.
A team of doctors believe she had a delayed stroke which was set off four days after cocaine use.
Altered mental status
While cocaine use has been linked regularly to strokes, there have only been a handful of cases where cocaine-users have been left completely paralysed.
And medics have predicted that less just one per cent of people who have a stroke develop locked-in syndrome.
The woman’s doctors now say cocaine use should be recognised as a potential cause of locked-in syndrome and urge all clinicians to take a urine sample from patients with altered mental status.
They emphasised the importance of awareness of the serious complications of cocaine use.
There are more than 100,000 strokes in the UK each year and roughly 800,000 in the US.
The Sun launched its End Of The Line campaign earlier this year to bust the myth that cocaine is a party drug with no consequences.
We shared heartbreaking stories from people whose lives have been torn apart by the drug, such as mum Nicola Abraham, whose son Jacob killed himself after taking coke on a night out.
End Of The Line
Cocaine use is reaching epidemic levels in Britain, with the UK branded the ‘Coke capital’ of Europe.
Use has doubled in the last five years, and with young people the numbers are even worse.
A staggering one in five 16-to-24-year-olds have taken cocaine in the last year.
That’s why The Sun has launched its End Of The Line campaign, calling for more awareness around the drug.
Cocaine use can cause mental health problems such as anxiety and paranoia, while doctors have linked the rise in cheap, potent coke to an increase in suicide rates.
People from all walks of life, from builders and labourers to celebrities like Jeremy McConnell – who is backing our campaign – have fallen foul of its lure.
It’s an issue that is sweeping the UK and, unless its tackled now, means a mental health crisis is imminent.
For both, the initial euphoria quickly descended into a life of anxiety and paranoia, two of the biggest side effects of cocaine.
The campaign has also been backed by organisations including charities SANE and DrugFAM, as well as doctors across the country.