Bobbi Kristina Brown: What the Latest Medical Developments Really Mean

"We have some clarity now," a family source tells PEOPLE

Photo: Christopher Polk/WireImage

In the four weeks since Bobbi Kristina Brown was found unresponsive in her bathtub, her family has searched for any sign of improvement in the 21-year-old daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown.

“It has been a long month,” a family source wearily tells PEOPLE. “The longest month of our whole life.”

Earlier this week, doctors attempted to remove her from a medically induced coma, only to have her suffer violent seizures. They quickly sedated her back into a coma.

But a medical expert tells PEOPLE that the latest developments are not necessarily all bad news – although they indicate that Brown is facing an uphill battle. “Seizures indicate that the patient is not brain dead,” says Neurologist Eli Zimmerman of Massachusetts General Hospital. “There has to be some brain activity.”

Dr. Zimmerman, who does not treat Brown, says that 28 days is “a long time” for Brown to be unconscious, but that there’s a medical reason to keep her in a medically-induced coma. “Patients are sedated – put into a medically-induced coma – because doctors want the brain to have to do as little as possible,” he says. “This way, the brain can heal.”

“The medications that are used to sedate the patient also prevent seizures,” says Zimmerman. “If the brain has been irritated by injury, it may go into seizures once the medication is stopped. In a situation like that, we may introduce medication for seizures that are not so severe.”

A family member tells PEOPLE that Brown is still on a ventilator and has had no discernible change in the past two days. Still, the news has not been unrelentingly bad this week. “We have some clarity now,” says the source, who declines to elaborate on what the family has learned. “We know a little bit more what to expect, and where things stand. In some ways, that’s a comfort.”

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