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Patient in a vegetative state ‘talks’ to scientists

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Jenny Hope
UK Daily Mail
Thursday, February 4th, 2010

British scientists are hailing a world-first ‘ conversation’ with a man diagnosed as being in a permanent vegetative state.

They say the breakthrough has enormous implications for the care and treatment of vegetative patients.
With the ability to communicate, patients could request pain relief, or even indicate if they wanted to end their life.

Dr Adrian Owen, who led the Medical Research Council team in Cambridge, said: ‘They can now have some involvement in their destiny.’

To the outside world, the 29-year-old patient – who suffered a severe head injury in a road accident in 2003 – appeared unconscious and incapable of communicating.

But Dr Owen’s team used a brain scanner to tap into his thoughts and monitor how he reacted to questions.
The man answered ‘yes’ or ‘no’ by conjuring up imaginary scenes that signalled a response.

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This article was posted: Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 4:52 am





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