Skip to comments.Brain-injured man speaks after 6 years
Posted on 08/01/2007 11:00:27 AM PDT by ElkGroveDan
NEW YORK - A brain-damaged man who could communicate only with slight eye or thumb movements for six years can speak again, after stimulating electrodes were placed in his brain, researchers report.
The 38-year-old also regained the ability to chew and swallow, which allows him to be spoon-fed, rather than relying on nourishment through a tube in his belly.
The man's brain was injured during an assault, he spent six years with only occasional signs of consciousness and no useful movement of his limbs. In an experiment, researchers implanted electrodes in his brain for a procedure called deep brain stimulation, which is routinely done for Parkinson's disease and some other illnesses.
They turned the electrodes on and off over six months to test their effect, and reported the results in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature. The man, who was not identified at the family's request, now has them on throughout the day.
Experts called the report exciting but cautioned that the approach must be tested in more people before its value can be known. The researchers have already begun a study of additional patients.
Before the electrodes were implanted the man was in what doctors call a "minimally conscious state." That means he showed only occasional awareness of himself and the environment. In a coma or vegetative state, by contrast, patients show no outward signs of awareness.
There are no firm statistics on how many Americans are in a minimally conscious state, but one estimate suggests 112,000 to 280,000. Doctors may try medications to improve their condition but no drugs have been firmly established as helpful.
The man described in the Nature study speaks in a breathy but audible voice, said Dr. Joseph Giacino, a co-lead author. He does not initiate conversations but can reply to others, typically with one to three words, said Giacino, of the JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in Edison, N.J.
Several weeks ago he recited the first half of the Pledge of Allegiance without assistance, Giacino said.
The man also recovered some movement. He can demonstrate motions such as brushing his teeth, said study lead author Dr. Nicholas Schiff of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. He can't actually carry out that task because the tendons in his arms contracted after years of immobility.
"He is still totally dependent and severely disabled," Schiff said.
But the treatment has helped him, the man's mother said in a statement. "Now, my son can eat, express himself and let us know if he is in pain. He enjoys a qualify of life we never thought possible," she said.
Dr. James Bernat, a professor of neurology at Darmouth Medical School who didn't participate in the new work, called the Nature report exciting and important. Further study is needed to shed light on how many patients would respond and how to identify the minimally conscious patients with the best chance of being helped, he said.
He noted that a similar treatment did not help Terri Schiavo, the Florida woman in a vegetative state whose care triggered national controversy before her death in 2005. That's the typical outcome for electrical brain stimulation in vegetative states, he said.
Dr. Ross Zafonte of the University of Pittsburgh, who also was familiar with the study results, agreed that "we need to know more" and said the approach is "very interesting and holds great promise."
She didn’t have the feeding tubes removed. Michael did. Judge Greer did. There’s actually a long list of people responsible for removing her feeding tubes. But Terri is not on that list.
The fact that Terri responded several times, as shown on the hours of video tape, proves that she was not PVS. No one claimed that she responded constantly. But you’ve seen the proof that she responded sometimes. It doesn’t matter that she sometimes didn’t respond. Or even that she failed to respond most of the time. The fact that she responded sometimes proves she wasn’t PVS. And don’t tell me that she coincidentally opened her eyes ridiculously wide when he told her to open her eyes. Now, maybe if she had opened her eyes normally, but she didn’t. She deliberately opened her eyes as wide as she could. How often does a person do that? PVS would prevent her from doing that, regardless of any outside stimulation. She wouldn’t be capable of making any purposeful facial expressions. So even it was coincidental that her purposeful facial expression followed the command to make that exact facial expression, it still proves she wasn’t PVS.
There was never any dispute about her blindness. It had already been documented that her vision was reduced to a level of legal blindness. Dehydration wasn’t going to restore her eyesight. The video of her tracking the balloon shows that she had some vision. The doctors who examined her all agreed that she had some vision. Even the doctors who later provided their assistance in killing her agreed she had some eyesight. The autopsy doesn’t prove them all wrong. As a matter of fact, it reinforces Dr. Hammasfahr’s observations.
One of these days we will :-)
Meanwhile, believing in bulimia theory after the M.E. trashed it is desperate. If you don't believe Dr. Thogmartin on this, why do you believe any of his other autopsy findings -- cortical blindness for one? You can't just pick and choose the medical theories you like, y'know.
It's not nonsense. It not only can be determined post mortem, it often is, as in this case. Throgmorton said she was most likely blind, because the cortical mass nesessary for sight was just not there. It's really quite simple, w/o the parts for the machinery required for the function, there is no function.
"In the instance Terri was clinically tested by three of the five court-appointed doctors to have some vision (optimum 8" - 12", or up to 18"; she could see the bright shiny balloons from further, as focus didn't matter). Yes, Dr. Cranford was one of them."
Cranford testified that there was NO RESPONSE from Terri. That's as I said in my above post. You don't get to alter, or misrepresent what his official testimony was. You have to deal with it. No response indicates the possibility that she was unable to percieve the balloons. Throgmorton's conclusion was that she could not, because the visual cortex was mostly gone.
" The discrepancy between clinical findings and Dr. Nelson's cortical blindness claim was most likely a sampling error."
Sampling error? LOL!
To quote Michael Schiavo on Larry King Live: "[TerriPAC] is a PAC that I founded, it's going to be holding some of these people accountable for what they did."
But in Michael's first electoral 'assault' in 2006, Schiavo's PAC took a royal asskicking in his first attempt to seek revenge against those who sought to prevent Terri's starvation.
In an election year where Democrat gained 31 seats, Schiavo's support proved to be the kiss of death to many other Democrat candidates that might have otherwise rode the historically inevitable mid-2nd-term opposition party wave.
In Florida, Schiavo's PAC:
LOST ! Jim Davis for Governor - after $3,500 [in blood money], and a joint fundraiser with honorary co-chair Rep. Barney Frank.
LOST ! (FL-9) Phyllis Busansky
LOST ! (FL-10) Samm Simpson
LOST ! (FL-21) Frank Gonzalez
LOST ! (FL-25) Michael Calderin
Outside of Florida:
LOST ! Ned Lamont for Senate - Michael campaigned for him in person in Connecticut.
LOST ! (CO-4) Angie Paccione - Schiavo stormed Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave's Loveland office in July, then held a joint press brag outside with Paccione.
LOST ! (MA-9) Jack Robinson
LOST ! (NJ-7) Linda Stender
LOST ! (NY-29) Eric Massa
LOST ! (OH-1) John Cranley
Thats your version and you are welcome to your opinions. I will stand by mine and those of many who knew Terri best and were by her bedside whenever they weren’t forbidden to be there by her HINO and his enablers. Thank you!
Look at the videos of Terri and tell me she wasn't communicating nonverbally.
I should also point out the fact that the videos with Terri responding were played in court. Michael’s lawyer had the volume muted. Judge Greer was blind. So he didn’t see or hear the video taped evidence.
Whoa! How did I miss that? All of the doctors testified that she did respond. Michael's doctors also testified that she was PVS, but they still testified that she responded. One of them testified that his own definition for PVS, which was in conflict with the legal definition used by the State of Florida and the definition used by the American Medical Association, included patients who responded.
Include Gov Bush's review team in there also.
"Theres actually a long list of people responsible for removing her feeding tubes. "
The list includes numerous folks with considerable medical expertise, none of whom could be effectively refuted.
"But Terri is not on that list."
Her husband testified to what Terri thought about the matter. Husbands and wives generally do know what each other thinks about that. The husband dialed 911, showed considerable concern and love for his wife and was found to be blameless in the matter by both the med folks involved and the law. The husbands testimony in the matter was heard and the testimony of Terri's family was heard. The husband's testimony was believed. THe important part to note is that Terri had no hope of improving, and that's what the whole thing centered on.
"The fact that Terri responded several times, as shown on the hours of video tape, proves that she was not PVS."
There are no hours of video tape. there are a few mins of edited tape and a failure to provide info reguarding over 10 years of no response. That includes to the implanted sitmulators. The tapes themselves show no response, especially after the coroner's found she was blind.
"So even it was coincidental that her purposeful facial expression followed the command to make that exact facial expression, it still proves she wasnt PVS."
When one fails to give the full results that were obtained from an exam like this, which lasted at least 45mins, and only presents the rare actions that appear to be responses, it's called fraud. That's all I see, fraud.
"There was never any dispute about her blindness. It had already been documented that her vision was reduced to a level of legal blindness. ... The video of her tracking the balloon shows that she had some vision."
She was blind and could not follow the balloon. From pg 8 of the autopsy report:
"Of particular importance was the hypoxic damage and neuronal loss in her occipital lobes, which indicates cortical blindness."
" it still proves she wasnt PVS."
The neurologists made that conclusion, because she showed NO RESPONSE.
"The doctors who examined her all agreed that she had some vision. Even the doctors who later provided their assistance in killing her agreed she had some eyesight."
No response means, NO RESPONSE. Again, from page 8 of the autopsy report:
""Of particular importance was the hypoxic damage and neuronal loss in her occipital lobes, which indicates cortical blindness."
Doesn't matter, because I doubt Greer would claim much expertise in the matter. If he thought he had some, he would have provided a way to "see" and hear the flicks. The judge, and judges in general, rely on those with an appropriate background in such matters to make such scientific medical judgements and concluisons. Certainly the plaintiffs were unable to counter any of the defense's medical testimony. That would have been an easy task, if there was any truth to there claims.
Not the guy that did the 45min exam, the short clips came from. His court testimony was that there was no response. That's why the parents put the tapes out on the net and called him a liar.
Aw, give it a try. Just find ANY innocent explanation that accounts for her injuries. It is no fantasy that Terri was grievously injured late that night. See, that's where the whole story starts.
You can't frame a rational opinion on how it ends without at least knowing if Michael hurt Terri that night in 1990. You could be -- and probably are -- covering up for a man who criminally assaulted his wife. It would be a travesty to support the right of a criminal assailant to finish off his victim later, with a court order. Everyone's sense of justice is outraged at the very thought of it.
He was being fed through a feeding tube until he was able to learn how to chew and swallow again. A feeding tube is not “life support” in the truest sense of the word. Many of the nurses that took care of Terri felt that she could swallow, but Michael would not allow them to try to feed her. When the tube was removed, Terri was literally starved and dehydrated to death and Michael would not even permit the nurses to moisten her lips with a little water. If someone were to do this to an animal, they would probably be arrested and charged with animal cruelty. That this happened by court order in the United States of America is still unbelievable to me.
After the autopsy, ophthalmologist Thomas W. Hejkal, MD, PhD., stepped forward to say that despite the autopsy findings that Terri was visually impaired (which everyone conceded), "cortical blindness could only be diagnosed by assessing her visual function while she was living."
Dr. Hejkal says that you are misinformed.
Interesting collection! The Democrats, the angry left and Al Jazeera are all of the opinion that the Schiavo issue destroyed the Republicans. Of course, they only said that out of their abiding concern for the Republicans. They all have a deep sincere love of the Republicans.
It is against the ANIMAL CRUELTY ordinances right there in Pinellas County. You'll have to ask Judge Greer why Terri did not qualify as an animal.
>>>>Brain-injured man speaks after 6 years
James Carville had been silent for the last six years?
>>He was minimally conscious the whole time and could communicate nonverbally but reliably - it would be hard to get an order to withhold nutrition without getting his consent. At least I hope what I just wrote is true.
I thought at the time that we were looking at reflexive response rather than communication but I wasn’t sure.
Since then, I have been convinced by the various medical reports and the autopsy.
He said one thing on the tape, to Terri herself, that we all heard; then he said the opposite in court. So which was true and which was a lie?
Here's some help with that question. The "guy" in question was Dr. Ronald Cranford, who styled himself "Dr. Humane Death." There are plenty of neurologists in Florida, but Michael's lawyers imported Dr. Humane Death all the way from Minnesota. Why? Because he always testified that the patient was PVS and should die. That's what he was paid to say.
What he said in an unguarded moment during the examination was much more believable, don't you think? You could see him and hear why he said what he said. "You can see a little, can't you!" Terri was tracking. (He also told the Schindlers after the exam that Terri did splendidly.)
As you noted, it was very short -- 45 minutes you said. PVS is determined by much more extensive testing over repeated visits (not on one day). Dr. Cranford's examination fell far short of professional standards. Only Drs. Hammesfahr and Maxfield put in the requisite time (10 hours and 5 hours respectively), and both made the requisite repeated exams. (Both affirmed that Terri was able to see, though her sight was badly impaired.)
>> That's why the parents put the tapes out on the net and called him a liar.
This was a court-ordered exam, not one of the private videos the Schindlers released.