Thursday, November 10, 2011

Study Finds Signs of Awareness in 3 ‘Vegetative’ Patients

Three severely brain-injured people thought to be in an irreversible “vegetative” state showed signs of full consciousness when tested with a relatively inexpensive and commonly used method of measuring brain waves, doctors reported Wednesday. Experts said the findings, if replicated, would change standards in treating such patients. 

Scientists have seen meaningful, responsive brain activity in such patients before, using a high-tech magnetic resonance imaging scanner. But the new study, posted online Wednesday by the journal The Lancet, is the first to demonstrate that clear signs of conscious awareness can be detected on an electroencephalogram machine by using an innovative strategy. The EEG is a portable, widely available unit that picks up electrical brain activity through electrodes positioned on a person’s head. Clinics and homes treating people with severe brain injuries are far more likely to have access to an EEG than to an M.R.I. scanner.


  1. Relevance?

    The "brain death" halachic position involves cessation of activity in the part of the brain that controls heartbeat and autonomic breathing (ie breathing when you're not consciously controlling your breath). This is quite far from "'irreversible' vegetative state". The people in question aren't halachicly dead by any definition.

    So, while this is interesting, I fail to see why it's on this blog.

  2. Relevance?"

    From a public policy viewpoint, this causes us to recoil in shock at the recollection of the judicially sanctioned murder of Terri Schiavo.

    Unfortunately she wasn't the first nor the last. Hopefully awareness that may result from stories such as this will stop such atrocities.

  3. I'm shocked that they never tried this before.

  4. I'll never forget how shocked I was that so many people I knew -- including frum ones -- were so cavalier re Terri Schiavo.


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