Medical

Consciousness sparked in man after 15 years in vegetative state

Consciousness sparked in man a...
Electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve resulted in a man "waking" after 15 years in a vegetative state
Electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve resulted in a man "waking" after 15 years in a vegetative state
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Electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve resulted in a man "waking" after 15 years in a vegetative state
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Electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve resulted in a man "waking" after 15 years in a vegetative state

After 15 years in a vegetative statewith no signs of consciousness a man is now showing minimal signs of"waking" following the implantation of an experimental nervestimulation device into his chest.

Angela Sirigu and colleagues at theFrench National Centre for Scientific Research in Bron set out todevelop a novel way of regaining lost consciousness. The researchexamined whether stimulating the vagus nerve could have any effect onreturning a vegetative patient back to a state of consciousness.

The vagus nerve has been the source ofa great deal of compelling research in recent years. Running from thebrain to the abdomen, the nerve is responsible for a huge array ofdifferent bodily tasks, and it comes into contact with a number ofdifferent organs, including the heart, lungs and stomach.

Stimulating the vagus nerve with anelectrical current has been shown to reduce epileptic seizures inpatients not responsive to drug treatment. This treatment has alsoproven effective in reducing symptoms of depression. More recently itwas discovered that vagus nerve stimulation could potentially be an effectiveanti-inflammatory treatment.

To examine whether vagus nervestimulation could restore consciousness in a vegetative patient, theresearchers selected a candidate who had been unresponsive for 15years after a major car accident. After one month of electricalstimulation to the vagus nerve, the man displayed signs ofawareness, such as turning his head when asked and following an objectwith his eyes.

Examining the patient through EEG andPET scans revealed increased brain activity across several areas ofthe brain. The man was now closer to a state scientists would classify as minimalconsciousness after years in a vegetative state.

Needless to say this isliterally just one case study and not an indication the key to waking anyone up from an unconscious state has been found. Everycase of brain injury is different and not all would be responsive tothis kind of treatment, but the study offers a fascinating new insightinto what goes on in our body to produce consciousness.

The research was published in thejournal Current Biology.

Source: Cell Press via ScienceDaily

1 comment
noteugene
That's wild. Never heard of anyone being in a vegative state for that long although it's probably happened. Wonder a couple things though. Maybe the wife moved on, married somebody else, if family even wants him back. Wonder if he's the same guy? Wonder if he recovers how in the hell is he going to be able to make a living. "I see a gap in your employment history...whats that about? Uh huh, uh huh". No retirement built up into his social security or retirement fund. Boat load of medical bills. I wonder if he wants to come back.....lot of questions. Plus the world is 15 yrs crazier than when he left it. I think he's going to be ticked off that you woke him up.