View Full Version : How long would a person stay unconscious?

Katrina S. Forest
06-14-2012, 08:48 PM
I've got two characters in a scene who have passed out for different reasons. One nearly drowned and the other was placed in a chokehold until he fainted.

Then I went and did my research and found you could recover from a chokehold faint in as little as three seconds.

I kind of need them both out for at least a minute, the one who almost drowned is out for maybe five minutes. No one's assisting them, they are breathing on their own as they lie there. They are both disoriented, but have taken no long term damage when they get back up.

Is it reasonable that if my one guy is kept in a chokehold even after he faints that he would take longer to recover once released? Or do I need some other way to knock this guy out?

06-14-2012, 10:00 PM
five minutes is plausible. it could happen.
Anything longer than that can lead to brain damage.

06-15-2012, 09:35 AM
If the guy who was drowing didn't have any trauma to the lungs (didn't inhale water and wash away surfactant), then I would expect them both to come around at about the same speed once oxygenated blood flow is restored. I would expect this to happen within thirty seconds (I would expect it to happen sooner, but thirty seconds is probably the outide mark before I start getting really worried). Maybe they could be groggy or something until the minute mark.

Katrina S. Forest
06-15-2012, 10:27 AM
Thanks for the insight. I've got some leeway with the exact time. It is the middle of a fight, the protagonist isn't quite sure when he woke up, she just sort of turns around and he is.

I suppose there's the possibility that he could've hit his head in the process of nearly drowning. (Or would that knock him out for the same amount of time?) He's also fairly weak-willed, perhaps he could simply faint from the scare. Do either of these sound like options to keep him out of action a few minutes longer? He's not doing Kung-fu or anything when he gets back up, but I do need him to walk and speak coherently.

Drachen Jager
06-15-2012, 10:37 AM
Knock to the head that would render him unconscious would mean he's not terribly coherent when he wakes up. A head injury can result in unconsciousness ranging from seconds to decades, so it fits in that regard.

Fainting might work, but reeks a little of Deus Ex Machina to me. Like you just pointed a finger at him and made it happen.

Usually if people drown to the extent they're unconscious they'll die without intervention, even if someone pulls them out of the water. Drowning means the lungs are normally pretty full of water (unless the water is removed by other means, nudge nudge, wink wink). It is possible to recover, but he'd be very weak and coughing badly.

Does he need to be actually unconscious? If he was merely half-drowned he'd be coughing out water for a few minutes and weak as a mouse for a few more and could very well not remember anything that happened during that time.