Friday, November 11, 2011

New technique shows problem with PVS diagnosis

A new technique to measure brain activity in patients diagnosed as being in a persistent "vegetative" state continues to show evidence that many PVS patients could actually be misdiagnosed and aware. Many court cases and controversies have arisen over withdrawing medical care, food or water from PVS patients like Terri Schiavo to end their lives.
“You spend a week with one of these patients and at no point does it seem at all they know what you are saying when you are talking to them. Then you do this experiment and find it’s the exact opposite — they do know what’s going on,” said Damian Cruse, a postdoctoral neuroscientist at the University of Western Ontario in Canada who helped conduct the research. “That’s quite a profound feeling.”

The results and similar findings could also provide crucial insights into human consciousness — one of the most perplexing scientific puzzles — and lead to ways to better provide diagnoses and possibly rehabilitate brain-injury patients, the researchers said.