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‘Vegetative’ Brain Injury Patients Communicate With Brain Wave February 12, 2010

Posted by intebic in Uncategorized.
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A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reveals that some patients formerly diagnosed as ‘vegetative,’ might still retain the ability to hear and respond to questions, an indication that consciousness might remain intact even in otherwise comatose or vegetative patients. The Oxford English Dictionary defines vegetative as, “alive but comatose and without apparent brain activity or responsiveness.” The new study has made doctors and scientists wary of diagnosing patients as vegetative.

In the study, conducted by British and Belgian scientists, a 29-year-old Belgian man who had been diagnosed as vegetative for the past five years was able to answer a yes/no question using a conscious change in his brainwaves, which were monitored with a functional MRI. A Times Online article reported that the man “had previously failed to show any signs of consciousness after suffering a severe brain injury in a road accident.” However, only one of the 54 patients assessed in the study was able to accurately answer a question.

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