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Science

Vegetative State Man 'Talks' By Brain Scan 202

Posted by Soulskill
from the fleet-captain-pike-would-be-proud dept.
c0lo writes "'Severely brain-injured Scott Routley hasn't spoken in 12 years. None of his physical assessments since then have shown any sign of awareness, or ability to communicate, thus being diagnosed as vegetative (vegetative patients emerge from a coma into a condition where they have periods awake, with their eyes open, but have no perception of themselves or the outside world).' Scott Routley was asked questions while having his brain activity scanned in an fMRI machine. British neuroscientist Prof Adrian Owen said Mr Routley was clearly not vegetative. 'Scott has been able to show he has a conscious, thinking mind. 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.' As a consequence, medical textbooks would need to be updated to include Prof Owen's techniques, because only observational assessments (as opposed to using mind-readers) of Mr. Routley have continued to suggest he is vegetative. Functional MRI machines are expensive (up to $2 million), but it's quite possible that a portable high-end EEG machine, costing about $75,000, can be used at a patient's bedside. Phillip K. Dick's world is one step closer."
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Vegetative State Man 'Talks' By Brain Scan

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  • EEG == $75k? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sgt scrub (869860) <saintium.yahoo@com> on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @05:59PM (#41985867)

    How does one charge $75,000 bucks for something that can be found in the land of open source?

    http://openeeg.sourceforge.net/buildeeg/ [sourceforge.net]

  • Re:EEG == $75k? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @06:12PM (#41985985) Homepage Journal
    75K seems a good amount for taking something that could be done in Open Source and making it safe, reliable, and repeatably measurable for use in a hospital.

    Sure, we can get these things to cost $5000 like a good hearing aid. But I'm not sure that version is going to be used to make the final assessment of whether there is a living person in a locked-in patient or not.

  • Morse Code (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Capt.Albatross (1301561) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @06:18PM (#41986047)
    While watching "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly", it occurred to me that knowing morse code would give you the best chance of communicating from this frightening state.
  • by pwizard2 (920421) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @06:19PM (#41986069)
    Being kept alive in that condition (where you are conscious but are essentially trapped in your own body) is unimaginably cruel. I for one would rather die.
  • Not vegetative? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by fustakrakich (1673220) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @06:26PM (#41986151) Journal

    Oh dear [wikipedia.org]!

  • by Baloroth (2370816) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @07:09PM (#41986561)

    I'm not even sure why they let vegetative people live if they've been in that condition for so long. If they're truly unconscious then they're already gone, and if they're not you definitely want to kill them. It makes me sick that we even *potentially* leave people in such a state for so long.

    You cannot say that someone else should die, without asking them, simply because **you** imagine you would want to in that situation. That would violate just about every single code of ethics imaginable. The situation changes a bit if they have previously expressed a desire not to be kept alive in such a situation (which is often followed, although mind you even in that case, it's hard to know if they really meant it, since they had no prior experience with which to make an educated judgment), but to presume that another should die because of what you think or want is one of the grossest violations of human rights possible.

  • Re:Must be boring. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @10:23PM (#41988177) Journal

    And I'm sure if the guy could communicate more than yes/no he would be saying "Kill me" over and over and over.

    this to me is the truly scary part of technology, how they can make someone a "head in a box" for all intents and purposes and leave you going for years trapped in some grey nothing (that is what one girl who awakened from a coma described it as, a grey room with nothing, no sounds, no doors, just a grey room...trapped forever with no concept of time) with no way to escape...fuck that, put a bullet in my brain, smother me with a pillow, OD me on morphine, don't leave me trapped in some grey hell for eternity.

  • Re:Must be boring. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by migloo (671559) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @04:17AM (#41989655)
    "And I'm sure if the guy could communicate more than yes/no he would be saying "Kill me""

    Well, he could answer "yes" to the question "do you want us to kill you?",
    and "no" to the question "do you want to live a little longer?".

    Locked-in syndrome is to me the most terrifying end I can conceive.

An inclined plane is a slope up. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"

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