Breakthrough As Vegetative Man Communicates Via FMRI

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Vegetative man communicates via FMRI in Canada

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.
In a breakthrough for communication with vegetative patients, that is certain to drastically alter how patients are dealt with worldwide, he 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 their 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."

Owen leads a team at the Brain and Mind Institute, University of Western Ontario, which used MRI scans to measure responses from Routley. Traditional tests have continued to indicate that Routley is in a vegetative state, with no discernable brain activity.

Owen and other doctors say this means medical text books will literally need to be re-written when it comes to evaluating patients suffering from severe brain injuries.

Owen says the results could lead to improved patient care for those living with severe brain injuries, making a major improvement in the daily of patients, including routine tasks such as when they prefer to be fed or bathed. Also, since fMRI scans do not use radiation and are considered easy to use by trained technicians, it's likely doctors could use them to communicate with patients on a regular basis. —

Get Adobe Flash player


By 33rd SquareSubscribe to 33rd Square