A Man in Vegetative State for 15 Years Regains the Signs of Consciousness

A man in France, fifteen years ago suffered with the traumatic brain injury in a severe car accident, had been facing a state of persistent unconsciousness, called as ‘vegetative state’. The new experimental treatment of the low intensity nerve stimulation in the patient’s brain has now been approved for treating the epilepsy and depression. This pioneering treatment has successfully stirred the patient into the condition which physicians used to describe as “minimally conscious state”.

According to Angela Sirigu, a leading researcher from the Institut des Sciences Cognitives Marc Jeannerod at Lyon in France, the reports from the Current Biology can help to prove that “it is possible to improve a patient’s presence in the world” by stimulating the vagus nerve. This may be challenging for the previous theory that the vegetative state is irreversible which can lasts over 12 months.

After the ‘vagus nerve stimulator’ was implanted into the patient’s chest, he responded to the simple instructions like following the object by eyes and turning head. The experts said that these results are hypothetically exciting, still it need to be repeating.

Dr Tom Manly from the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit of the Cambridge University describes the results as ‘potentially very exciting finding’. He stated that, “It is very important to take into account that the patient moved from a vegetative to a minimally conscious state. That is, consciousness remains severely altered but, in contrast to the vegetative state, there is minimal but definite behavioral evidence of self or environmental awareness.”

The observational study reported that the data gained from the Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan and the Electroencephalography (EEG) has proved that the activity of brain have been increased in region that are responsible for sensation, movement and awareness.



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