A new approach to scanning the brains of vegetative patients may help physicians determine which patients are conscious, semi-conscious and unconscious. When patients are in comas or vegetative states, it may be difficult to tell if their injuries have rendered them completely unconscious or in a state of semi-consciousness. However, a newly released research study out of Canada indicates that specialized MRI scans may reveal just how conscious or unconscious patients truly are.
This news is providing hope for families of coma patients with traumatic brain injuries. Understanding whether or not their loved one is somewhat conscious or completely unconscious may help them determine how to proceed with their loved one’s care plan.
The Canadian study is nothing less than shocking. Of those patients tested with functional magnetic resonance imaging, three patients in comas or persistent vegetative states were able to answer simple questions “yes” or “no.” One patient who had spent 12 years in a vegetative state indicated that he knew both where he was and what his name is.