Vegetative patients may have awareness

Discussion in 'Health and Lifestyle' started by Abbey Normal, Sep 8, 2006.

  1. Abbey Normal
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    Abbey Normal Senior Member

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    Vegetative patients may have awareness
    By LAURAN NEERGAARD, AP Medical Writer

    1 hour, 2 minutes ago

    WASHINGTON - Advanced brain scanning uncovered startling signs of awareness in a woman in a vegetative state, British scientists reported Thursday — a finding that complicates one of medicine's ethical minefields.

    The work is sure to elicit pleas from families desperate to know if loved ones deemed beyond medical help have brain activity that doctors don't suspect. "Can he or she hear and understand me?" is a universal question.

    It's far too soon to raise hopes, the British researchers and U.S. brain specialists stress. There's no way to know if this 23-year-old woman, brain-damaged over a year ago, will recover, and therefore if her brain activity meant anything medically. Her brain injury may not be typical of patients in a vegetative state.

    Scientists don't even agree on whether the woman had some real awareness — she seemed to follow, mentally, certain commands — or if her brain was responding more automatically to speech.

    "This is just one patient. The result in one patient does not tell us whether any other patient will show similar results, nor whether this result will have any bearing on her," cautioned neuroscientist Adrian Owen of Britain's Medical Research Council. He led the novel brain-scanning experiment, reported in the journal Science.

    The work does raise calls for more research in this difficult-to-study population — because of the tantalizing prospect of one day learning how to predict whose brain is more likely to recover, and maybe even tailoring rehabilitation.

    ...
    The woman was injured in a car crash. By the time Owen scanned her brain five months later, she had been pronounced in a vegetative state — physically unresponsive to a battery of tests. A small percentage of people make some recovery after spending a short period in a vegetative state.

    ...
    Owen and colleagues contend their fMRI experiment showed the car-crash victim had some preserved conscious awareness despite her vegetative state.

    How could they tell? First, they checked that she could process speech. Upon being told "there was milk and sugar in the coffee," the fMRI showed brain regions reacting the same in the woman and in healthy volunteers.

    Then came the big test. Owen told the woman to perform a mental task — to imagine herself playing tennis and walking through her house. Motor-control regions of her brain lit up like they did in the healthy people he compared with her.

    "There is no other explanation for this than that she has intentionally decided to involve herself in the study and do what we asked when we asked," Owen said in an interview.

    Other scientists say that's not clear-cut.
    ...

    Full story:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060908/ap_on_he_me/vegetative_brain_8
     
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  2. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    I read about this in the morning, dead tree. I'm of the same mind I was with Schiavo. Nutrition should not be denied. Seems reasonable if there is family or someone willing to step in to pay for, care for someone in this condition, the next of kin should be held 'harmless' and be able to walk away: ie, parents not being responsible; spouse allowed to be divorced with little time elapsing...

    In any case, these and other issues should be dealt with on the state level, NOT federal.
     
  3. dilloduck
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    dilloduck Diamond Member

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    right--cuase if the feds mess with it the will suffer severe repercussions in the next election. :cof:
     
  4. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    No, because it's none of the feds freakin business. :rolleyes:
     
  5. dilloduck
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    dilloduck Diamond Member

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    Since when has that stopped them?
     
  6. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    Should have. Then again, it was GOP'ers that asked them to get involved. Go figure?
     
  7. dilloduck
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    dilloduck Diamond Member

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    I guess it's the Dems turn now.
     
  8. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    But they belong on the wrong side of this issue.
     
  9. dilloduck
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    dilloduck Diamond Member

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    Politicians don't have sides--they just wanna win.
     
  10. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    Memo to you: Neither side wins in giving power to feds of any branch, jurisdiction in this case.
     

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