Most of the time, doctors have a simple way to determine if a patient needs pain medication: They ask. But when a brain injury renders someone unable to respond to questions, the right course of action becomes murkier. Now a study finds that the brains of some patients with brain injuries respond to an unpleasant electrical shock much as do the brains of healthy people, suggesting that these patients may feel pain even though they're unable to show it.
The findings are an important contribution to an understudied area, says Nicholas Schiff, a neurologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. Minimally conscious patients can't talk or even wince to let doctors know they're in pain, Schiff notes: "There's nothing to guide you without this kind of data." Even so, Schiff says, researchers need to study a larger sample of patients before making specific guidelines for pain medications.
Altered perceptions? Minimally conscious patients may have a greater capacity to feel pain than do those in a vegetative state (such as Terri Schiavo, above).
Former Sen. John Danforth wants the Republican Party to get back to its "good, old" traditions: lower taxes and less government.
Speaking at a Republican Leadership Council on Thursday night, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said the political arm of religion has divided the country and led the party away from its core principles.
In 1976, Danforth, an ordained Episcopal minister, was elected to the U.S. Senate for Missouri. In 2001, he was named special peace envoy to Sudan and, in 2004, became U.S. ambassador to the United Nations before resigning five months later.
After witnessing the Republican-controlled federal government intervene in Terri Schiavo's death, Danforth said, he saw the need for his party to get away from defining itself by social issues.
"After the federal government was getting into (Schiavo's case), I thought, 'This was not the party I signed-on for,'" Danforth said.....