Skip to comments.Doctors Say Electric Pulses Aided Brain-Damaged Man
Posted on 10/16/2006 12:14:26 AM PDT by neverdem
ATLANTA, Oct. 15 A team of neuroscientists reported Sunday that they had restored some movement and speech to a severely brain-damaged man by stimulating his brain with pulses of electric current.
The 38-year-old man, who had been barely conscious for six years, gradually regained the use of his left arm and began to utter coherent words for the first time since his injury in an assault, the doctors said.
Before surgery to implant two wire electrodes deep in his brain, he could respond to questions and commands occasionally, by moving his thumb or nodding, but was otherwise virtually mute and unable to move.
Experts said the case, presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Atlanta, could revive interest in electrical stimulation for the estimated 100,000 to 200,000 Americans subsisting in states of partial consciousness.
But they added that it was far from clear how many would benefit, and that there were knotty ethical questions about operating on patients who could not give their consent.
Doctors have long used the implant surgery, known as deep brain stimulation, to treat the rigidity and tremors of Parkinsons disease. They have also tried it in the past two decades on a handful of brain-damaged people, including Terri Schiavo, the Florida woman who died last year after her feeding tube was removed amid a national debate over her care.
But in those patients, the treatment was usually performed too soon after the injury to rule out spontaneous improvements, and in most cases, including Ms. Schiavos, it made no difference at all. The new case provides the first convincing evidence that the surgery can be helpful for some patients.
I think this case suggests that this surgery probably will be one of the choices of treatment we can give to"
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
*Tom Fury ping*