Thursday, August 2, 2007

Gosh, it's too bad Terry Schiavo isn't around for this

Isn't this exactly what the loved ones of patients in comas and persistent vegetative states mean when they say they'll never give up hope?

A man who spent six years unable to talk, eat or walk as a result of severe brain damage has made a remarkable recovery thanks to a revolutionary implant of electrodes deep in his brain.

How the procedure works: Click to enlarge

The 38-year-old had been written off by one doctor as a vegetable but he is now able to talk, laugh, drink, chew and carry out simple tasks such as brushing his teeth.

The man had been left in a “minimally conscious state” after being beaten up and robbed. He was unable to speak audibly and could only communicate by a nod, or tiny eye or finger movements.

He was also unable to chew or swallow, and had to be fed through a tube. His eyes mostly remained shut.

But after two electrodes delivered pulses of electricity to arouse his brain, he can now use words and gestures, respond reliably to requests, eat normally, drink from a cup, and carry out simple tasks such as brushing his hair, though his muscles have wasted and contracted so it is uncertain he will ever walk again.

The American patient’s family has requested that he not be identified, but speaking today his mother said: “I prayed for a miracle The most important part is that he can say 'Mummy and pop, I love you'. God bless those wonderful doctors. I still cry every time I see my son, but it is tears of joy.”

It's just too bad that Terry Schiavo's parents didn't have the opportunity to give their daughter this chance at a partial recovery. One might have thought that her husband, too, would have wanted to wait for a medical breakthrough of this type. Guess not.


Anonymous said...

Ummm, yeah- apparently you aren't aware that Terri Schiavo was one of the first to have this procedure performed. Her husband took her from Florida to California for it. She qualified for experimental procedures because she had no progress in rehab.

It is the opinion of experts that the experimental treatment was not successful for Mrs Schiavo due to the severity and extent of her brain damage- she was clearly PVS as a result of anoxic brain injury whereas the man who benefitted from the treatment was clearly MCS with his brain injuries the result of closed head trauma.

In other words the damage to Mrs Schiavos brain was global due to lack of oxygen throughout, the damage to his brain was NOT global, it was much less severe and his brain remained structurally intact.

stuiec said...

Oh, yes, yes he did -- in 1990. It may have transpired that in the past 17 years, there have been advances in the technology and the doctors' understanding of how to use it. Further, Ms. Schiavo's brain may have experienced a degree of healing between 1990 and 2005 from the trauma that caused her initial loss of function. A CT image purportedly of Ms. Schiavo's brain in 1996 showed significant cortical atrophy, but not a "dead brain."