Patient in Vegetative State: I'm Not in Pain
In breakthrough, doctors communicate with brain-damaged man
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2012 3:31 PM CST
Updated Nov 17, 2012 7:00 PM CST
File image of brain waves.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – An intriguing medical breakthrough out of Canada—doctors say they have been able for the first time to communicate with a patient who has severe brain damage. Better yet, the message delivered by the patient was a great one: I'm not in pain. The Canadian Press and the BBC explain that doctors studied the patient's brain waves as they voiced a command: he should think about playing tennis if he were not in pain or about walking around the house if he were. The activities trigger different parts of the brain—motor skills vs. visual associations—and the man's brain waves suggested he was pain-free.

"Scott has been able to show he has a conscious, thinking mind," says a British neuroscientist, referring to 39-year-old Scott Routley. "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." Routley has been in a vegetative state since a car accident 12 years ago.

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Showing 3 of 43 comments
Nov 23, 2012 6:02 AM CST
If this Canadian research is valid, we're going to have to re-think our decisions about unplugging life support for vegetative patients. Life is sacred, and ending it ought to be the last option on the list.
Nov 18, 2012 2:34 PM CST
bo speaks!
Nov 18, 2012 7:28 AM CST
It would seem to me that the comment posted on here parallel those made at other times in recent history... "Man will never fly!", "The automobile will never catch on!", "Man will never walk on the moon!". How many of you posting on here have degrees in the field these researchers are working in? If you can't conclusively prove they're wrong, could you give them the benefit of the doubt until more research is completed? If this can be proven, then perhaps cases such as the one in Florida not so long ago may end differently. As for the cost of this research, well... how much has it cost to keep him alive for the past twelve years?