Tuesday, 13 November 2012

"I'm Not In Pain": Vegetative Patient

BBC reports:
"A Canadian man who was believed to have been in a vegetative state for more than a decade, has been able to tell scientists that he is not in any pain.

It's the first time an uncommunicative, severely brain-injured patient has been able to give answers clinically relevant to their care."

This was the result of a new technology, an fMRI machine, and will mean that doctors and scientists will need to think again when dealing with patients in PVS (Permanent Vegetative State).

Usually after emerging from a coma there are no signs of communication or awareness of surroundings.

However doctors have now said:

"Scott Routley has been able to show he has a conscious, thinking mind. We have scanned him several times and his pattern of brain activity shows he is clearly choosing to answer our questions. We believe he knows who and where he is."

Another patient in PVS who has undergone this groundbreaking technology has shown that he has been able to gain new memories in this state:

"Steven Graham answers yes when asked whether his sister has a daughter. His niece was born after his car accident five years ago."

This raises some interesting questions when debating the topic of euthanasia. Arguing that the patient is uncommunicative or unaware may not be true. Would this knowledge effect a families decision? Does it make it harder to decide what to do?

Read full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-20268044

Watch: The Mind Reader: Unlocking My Voice - a Panorama Special - will be broadcast on Tuesday 13 November at 22:35 on BBC One. Or catch up later on the BBC iPlayer using the link above.

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