Confirming long-held suspicions, researchers in Canada have come up with evidence that coma victims are indeed aware of their condition and surroundings. The findings came about after patients in a persistent vegetative state were monitored with an inexpensive EEG rather than the more complicated MRI technique.
Brainwave activity in nearly 20 percent of the patients tested, compared to healthy control subjects, showed that brain wave activity in the injured patients responded to external stimuli from researchers.
The results confirm what many have long feared; coma victims are aware they are trapped inside their bodies, unable to move but able to perceive their condition. Some patients in a persistent vegetative state may linger for years, even decades.
The study was conducted by Professor Adrian M. Owen and Dr. Damian Cruse at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. They used an inexpensive EEG device to get the results from 16 victims and compared them to 12 healthy control subjects.
Three coma patients showed positive brainwave activity after external stimulation similar to the healthy subjects. The researchers have concluded that this means these patients were aware of the test, despite being unable to move any part of their bodies.
MRI evaluation is the preferred method for testing a coma victim's cognitive state, but is often not a viable option. The cheaper EEG tests are more practical and have clearly showed a horrifying result as the conclusion.
Despite the medical community assertion that coma victims are not capable of perceiving their condition or environment, many relatives and loved ones of the victims have asserted that they are certain some coma victims can "feel" what is happening to them, but are unable to articulate their consciousness of the devastating condition.
This is very tragic news. It's proof that coma victims are aware of the terrible circumstances they are forced to endure, perhaps for decades. This may make a stronger case for family members to decide it's cruel to allow this condition to continue by use of life support machinery.
What do you think? Do these results change the life support issue? Will it make it easier to "pull the plug" on life support devices?
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