Skip to comments.So-Called “Vegetative” Patient Communicates With Doctors
Posted on 11/13/2012 11:53:01 PM PST by kathsua
The battle to protect patients in a so-called vegetative state from euthanasia took a positive turn today with the news that doctors have been able to communicate with one patient.
A Canadian man who was believed to have been in a persistent vegetative state for more than a decade has been able to communicate with scientists that he is not in any pain. Its the first time an uncommunicative brain-injured patient has been able to communicate.
The news could change the way doctors and society views such patients. From the story:
Scott Routley, 39, was asked questions while having his brain activity scanned in an fMRI machine. His doctor says the discovery means medical textbooks will need rewriting.
Routley suffered a severe brain injury in a car accident 12 years ago.
None of his physical assessments since then have shown any sign of awareness, or ability to communicate.
But the British neuroscientist Prof Adrian Owen who led the team at the Brain and Mind Institute, University of Western Ontario said Mr Routley was clearly not vegetative.
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 said it was a groundbreaking moment.
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.
Scott Routleys parents say they always thought he was conscious and could communicate by lifting a thumb or moving his eyes. But this has never been accepted by medical staff.
Prof Bryan Young at University Hospital, London Mr Routleys neurologist for a decade said the scan results overturned all the behavioural assessments that had been made over the years.
I was impressed and amazed that he was able to show these cognitive responses. He had the clinical picture of a typical vegetative patient and showed no spontaneous movements that looked meaningful.
Owen, the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging, began his work on the study in London in 2011. The work at the Brain and Mind Institute at Western University mirrored what Owen did in England, work that was published in 2006 by the New England Journal of Medicine that found 18% of patients believed to be in a vegetative state were actually conscious.
Bioethicist Wesley J. Smith previously commented on the research.
Patients diagnosed as persistently unconscious may be the most scorned people on earth. I mean, who else could be called a turnip or carrot with impunity? he asked, saying he was hopeful the research would give them some humanity in the eyes of society.
Last month, a 12-year-old boy, whose doctor claimed he was in a persistent vegetative state after suffering a gunshot wound to the head, was talking and receiving physical therapy at a Dallas hospital.
Before modern medical technology, this guy would likely have died soon after his accident.
Now modern technology is unnaturally keeping him alive while locked inside his body.
Must be the worst kind of prison.
I would rather die than live like that.
It’s time we stop killing people just because someone else says their life isn’t worth living
A little ancient elbow grease would clean that place up a lot. I think you have spotted a cultural problem, not just a technological one. Ditches and middens have been around a long time.
I live in a place where many are coming out of the stone age. Even w/o technology, people do not have to endure that squalor.
It’s the decay of moral values that have come with the widespread acceptance of abortion that have led to this cheapening of human life.
Abortion is like a gateway drug that has been dispensed by heartless leftists as though it was a thing to be admired and a delight for all who partake of it.
Physicians that perform late term abortions are lifted up as heroes by throngs of true believers who think that everything is dead and nothing is wrong, that actions are simply legal or illegal and there are no moral absolutes.
These creatures go by many names..Marxists, communists, leftists, atheists.... Freepers recognize them when they see them. This loathsome collection of filth will soon be making life and death decisions as our wonderful new health care system gets rolled out. :-(
We have the technology and modern medicine and people still reject it. That’s where the problems come from.
Unfortunately, modern medicine has been hurting its own credibility with the 'butter good/butter bad, apples good/apples bad', sort of nonsense, which is about the level of scientific understanding of many of the masses, despite what should be one of the finest public education systems in the world--instead given over to socialist dogma, victim studies, and mush.
And sadly, there are competing forces, which would 'harvest' organs for transplant on the one hand, or simply be relieved of the 'burden' of caring for or visiting a relative who is greatly dependent on others for care, whether that motivation be emotional or financial, on the other, all allied in the push for 'quick' solutions, and not necessarily the 'right' ones.
This discovery, however may help lead to mapping the nerve centers and pathways which could lead to a breakthrough in spinal cord or even brain repair, a way to (for instance) cure those injured in wartime and in peaceful pursuits.
It is still the least understood organ in the body.
Wow, do you ever have the wrong “handle” to post on this thread...which is sure to be bereft of logic.
Never mind that the worst nightmare in all of humanity has universally been that of being “buried alive”....and that this is far worse since you don’t eventually fall asleep to peacefully die as the oxygen runs out.
There is no string wound through your fingers to ring the bell...just the horror of waking up repeatedly to find that it is not a nightmare, but reality. Day, after day, after day...with some celebrating the torture as success. This is simply horrifying if it proves to be true.
God help us all.
It’s a shame the doctors can’t cut him up and resell his parts to other patients. There’s so much money to be made. /sarc
Not necessarily so. Brain Injury unlike Spinal Cord Injury can at any time improve even years down the road. I worked in a nursing home as did my wife back in the 1980's. My wife suffered a spinal infarction and had to quit work and I quit to care for her then returned to work till my own disabilities hit me. A year and a half later after her release from rehab we were driving near a local rehab center for head injury and spinal cord injuries. We saw a patient we had known at work who could barely even talk. He had been that way about 5 years due to head trauma. All of the sudden there he was living independent in an apartment walking down the sidewalk. He could carry on a pretty good converstaion also.
I worked in the maintenance portion of nursing homes my wife was a CNA. I made darn sure so called Vegetated Patients got a very sensitive Nurse Call switch where their slightest touch would activate it. I would explain to them what it was and what it was for.
People need to think about what they say around persons who are in a Coma. The last sense a person looses before death is often hearing.
Maybe you would rather die. But these patients are not on life support. They have a feeding tube and hydration. Usually that's it as far as any special procedures. Most are not even on oxygen.
When my wife was in rehab for three months I saw patients coming in to rehab as she was fixing to be discharged. They had been unconscious for months. We'd see their progress when she'd see them in the doctors office over they years. Not quite as recovered to their abilities before their injury but improved remarkably none the less. I'd rather err on the side of life while life is a possibility. Meaning short of a terminal condition.
My Great Grandfather was a Doctor back in the 1930's. One of his biggest fears we were told was being buried alive. So much so he told his wife that when he passed she was to leave the house for a day or so and come back & check him before calling the undertaker.
One of my relatives had a slab installed over his wife’s grave; he didn’t want to take any chances she’d return!
Is that Detroit?
Sounds reasonable, but you would still find yahoos who would say it was wrong to let them die.