Vegetative patient communicates with doctors for first time | News.com.au

Be VERY careful before you pull the plug.

MORE than a decade after a car crash left him in an apparently vegetative state, Scott Routley has been able to tell scientists he is not in pain.

Researchers have recorded the Canadian man’s responses to “yes” and “no” questions, as an MRI machined scanned his brain activity.

It’s the first time someone who is uncommunicative and severely brain damaged has been able to give answers related to their care and treatment.

Professor Adrian Owen, the study’s lead researcher at Canada’s University of Western Ontario, said 39-year-old Routley was clearly not vegetative and the text books needed rewriting.

Vegetative patients emerge from a coma into an “awake” state in which their eyes are open, but lack any perception of themselves or the outside world.

Technological advancement … researchers recorded Routley’s brain activity with fMRI scanners. Picture: BBC News Source: Supplied

“Scott 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,” Prof Owen told BBC News.

“Asking a patient something important to them has been our aim for many years. In future we could ask what we could do to improve their quality of life. It could be simple things like the entertainment we provide or the times of day they are washed and fed.”

via Vegetative patient communicates with doctors for first time | News.com.au.

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