More than 12 years after a car accident left him in a vegetative state, a Canadian man has begun communicating with doctors who are monitoring his brain activity through Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) scans.
The BBC reports that 39-year-old Scott Routley has been able to communicate to doctors that he is not in any pain, marking the first time an uncommunicative, severely brain-damaged patient has been able to give direct answers regarding his care and treatment.
“Scott has been able to show he has a conscious, thinking mind,” British neuroscientist Adrian Owen told the BBC. “We have scanned him several times, and his pattern of brain activity shows he is clearly choosing to answer our questions. We believe he knows who and where he is.”
Traditional tests have continued to indicate that Routley is in a vegetative state, with no relevant brain activity. Owen and other doctors say this means medical textbooks will literally need to be re-written when it comes to evaluating patients suffering from severe brain injuries.
I’m REALLY unclear about this. How do they know he is answering and just not processing the information? More over, how can they interpret what he is saying from a brain scan? How can they tell he is not in pain or that he knows what is going on? The article doesn’t say. This needs to be documented as a study so other doctors can use this information, test it and see if it can actually be used as they claim it can. Meanwhile, I just don’t know what to believe about this. Sounds too good to be true.
Tip: David Gluck