With New Research, PVS Patients Shouldn’t be Starved to Death
by Alex Schadenberg | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 11/15/12 2:04 PM
New research is proving that it is possible to communicate with people who are deemed to be in a Persistent Vegetative State.
Adrian Owen, a British researcher who is leading the Brain and Mind Institute at Western University in London Ontario has been a leading researcher related to people who are diagnosed as being in a Persistent Vegetative State.
Recent media reports based on a BBC television special report focused on the story of Scott Routley who experienced a severe brain injury in a car accident and who has not spoken for 12 years. Routley has been diagnosed as being in a vegetative state.
Owen uses an MRI scanner to record the reaction of the brain to specific questions. A Toronto Star article described the process in this manner:
“We put him in an MRI scanner and while he is in the scanner we ask him to imagine doing certain things in his mind . . . for example, we ask him to imagine using his arms. Scott is unable to use his arms in reality but it turns out he is perfectly able to imagine moving his arms. And we can pick that up on the scanner and we can tell he’s doing what we ask him to do”
Owen said command-following is a routine method of telling if a person is conscious and aware, “and with Scott we can tell he is activating his brain when we ask him to do so.”
“And when we say ‘now stop doing that imagining’ and then we see the little blob in the brain disappear. But when we say start it again now the blob lights up again,” he said.
“It became very clear that Scott had some awareness and he could respond in the scanner to the task we asked him to do while he was in there,” British neuroscientist professor Adrian Owen, who leads the research team, told the Toronto Star.
“What we have done here for the very first time is ask a patient a question that is actually relevant to their clinical care.
“Asking somebody whether they are in pain in tremendously important, because of course if the answer had been yes, we could do something,” he said.
…the results effectively overturn all the behavioural assessments in his patient’s file.
“I was impressed and amazed that he was able to show these cognitive responses. He had the clinical picture of a typical vegetative patient and showed no spontaneous movements that looked meaningful,” he said, adding that medical textbooks will need to be updated to include the brain scanning techniques.
The MRI brain scan technique should allow many people who are deemed to be PVS to receive effective pain and symptom management as well as it will allow many of these people to be re-assessed and be given effective treatment for their condition.
The fact is that the determination of PVS is now used to withdraw all medical treatment from patients, and in the UK, since the Bland court decision, people who are deemed to be PVS can have their fluids and food withdrawn causing them to die by dehydration.
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