Despite Near-Total Paralysis, Patients Remain Happy

Study offers surprising results for those with 'locked-in syndrome'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2011 4:12 PM CST
Photo illustration: Many patients with almost complete paralysis remain happy, a new study finds.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Happiness is a relative thing: Most patients with so-called "locked-in syndrome"—they're mentally aware but physically paralyzed and unable to communicate except with their eyes—characterize themselves as happy. Of the 65 patients who took part in the first major study of the issue, mostly by blinking, 47 said they were happy and 18 unhappy, reports AP. Few had suicidal thoughts.

"We cannot and should not presume to know what it must be like to be in one of these conditions," says one neuroscientist. "Many patients can find happiness in ways that we simply cannot imagine." The lead Belgian researcher says patients adapted to their conditions over time, which he says should be kept in mind when new patients express interest in euthanasia.

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