New way found to detect awareness in "vegetative" patients

Date:2011-11-11litingting  Text Size:

 BEIJING, Nov. 10 (Xinhuanet) -- Awareness in three vegetative patients were detected in a portable electrode test, a new study shows. If replicated, the method may change standards in treating such patients.

The new study, published online in the journal The Lancet Wednesday, was reported to be the first to detect signs of awareness in patients living in the unresponsive state through more accessible electroencephalogram (EEG) machine.

The EEG is a portable and more affordable technique than Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner, but it is as effective as the MRI to diagnose patients in the vegetative state, according to the research team led by Damian Cruse and Adrian M. Owen of the University of Western Ontario.

In the research test, the team hooked 16 previously determined to be vegetative patients to EEG machines and gave simple instructions to them like moving their fingers and toes.

The machines show that the patterns in the premotor cortex, the area of the brain that plans and prepares movements, in three of 16 patients were exactly the same as those of healthy volunteers.

While the patients were able to follow simple instructions, they were not able to make their own decisions about their state, the researchers said.

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