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OT: Vegetative patient Scott Routley says 'I'm not in pain'


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Initial post: Nov 19, 2012 7:08:36 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 19, 2012 7:10:09 AM PST
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-20268044

Vegetative patient Scott Routley says 'I'm not in pain'
COMMENTS (247)
By Fergus Walsh
Medical correspondent

The moment when Prof Owen asked patient Scott whether he was in pain

A Canadian man who was believed to have been in a vegetative state for more than a decade, has been able to tell scientists that he is not in any pain.

It's the first time an uncommunicative, severely brain-injured patient has been able to give answers clinically relevant to their care.

Scott Routley, 39, was asked questions while having his brain activity scanned in an fMRI machine.

His doctor says the discovery means medical textbooks will need rewriting.

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.

Mr Routley suffered a severe brain injury in a car accident 12 years ago.

None of his physical assessments since then have shown any sign of awareness, or ability to communicate.

But the British neuroscientist Prof Adrian Owen - who led the team at the Brain and Mind Institute, University of Western Ontario - 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."

Prof Owen said it was a groundbreaking moment.

Finding a voice for the brain injured
"Asking a patient something important to them has been our aim for many years. In future we could ask what we could do to improve their quality of life. It could be simple things like the entertainment we provide or the times of day they are washed and fed."

Scott Routley's parents say they always thought he was conscious and could communicate by lifting a thumb or moving his eyes. But this has never been accepted by medical staff.

Prof Bryan Young at University Hospital, London - Mr Routley's neurologist for a decade - said the scan results overturned all the behavioural assessments that had been made over the years.

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging measures the real-time activity of the brain by tracking the flow of oxygen-rich blood
The patients were repeatedly asked to imagine playing tennis or walking around their home
In healthy volunteers each produces a distinct pattern of activity, in the premotor cortex for the first task and the parahippocampal gyrus for the second
It allowed the researchers to put a series of yes or no questions to severely brain-injured patients. A minority were able to answer by using the power of thought
In 2010 Prof Owen published research showing that nearly one in five of the vegetative patients were able to communicate using brain activity
"I was impressed and amazed that he was able to show these cognitive responses. He had the clinical picture of a typical vegetative patient and showed no spontaneous movements that looked meaningful."

Observational assessments of Mr Routley since he responded in the scanner have continued to suggest he is vegetative. Prof Young said medical textbooks would need to be updated to include Prof Owen's techniques.

The BBC's Panorama programme followed several vegetative and minimally-conscious patients in Britain and Canada for more than a year.

Another Canadian patient, Steven Graham, was able to demonstrate that he had laid down new memories since his brain injury. Mr Graham answers yes when asked whether his sister has a daughter. His niece was born after his car accident five years ago.

The Panorama team also followed three patients at the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability (RHN) in Putney, which specialises in the rehabilitation of brain-injured patients.

It collaborates with a team of Cambridge University neuroscientists at the Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre at Addenbrooke's hospital, Cambridge.

Panorama's Fergus Walsh meets Professor Adrian Owen to learn what the brain is like when in a vegetative state
One of the patients is diagnosed as vegetative by the RHN, and he is also unable to show awareness in an fMRI machine.

A second patient, who was not able to be fully assessed by the RHN because of repeated sickness, is later shown to have some limited awareness in brain scans.

Posted on Nov 19, 2012 7:11:15 AM PST
StriderNeo15 says:
Next question - "Xbox 360 or PS3?"

Posted on Nov 19, 2012 7:15:00 AM PST
Soulshine says:
Cool story, but I can't help but think that if I was conscious but vegetative for 12 long years my first communication would be asking for death.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 7:17:58 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 19, 2012 7:18:20 AM PST
Makes you think though. If you have a relative who is in a coma, do they know some of their loved ones aren't visiting because they think they're brain dead?

What if they do know? What if they sit there thinking to themselves, "I wish they would stop by once in awhile." It could allow us to "talk" to them when we previously may have thought it was impossible.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 7:21:21 AM PST
McAwesomeo says:
Yeah, every time I see a story about vegetative states I feel like I should write a living will.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 7:25:19 AM PST
Soulshine says:
Oh I totally think this research/breakthrough is important. And it might play a role in getting people out of that state - beyond just communicating.

I just think being motionless and bedridden for that long would be torture and I probably couldn't handle it. Unless I reached some kind of enlightenment through meditation or something.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 7:25:21 AM PST
Kendahl says:
Yeah, but you never do and eventually it will be too late.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 7:25:49 AM PST
I don't think I could either.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 7:28:30 AM PST
McAwesomeo says:
Pretty much.

Posted on Nov 19, 2012 7:30:19 AM PST
Pancakes or waffles?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 7:31:08 AM PST
J. Pardee says:
You have 12 years to practice meditation with nothing else to do. I hope you can master it by then.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 7:35:07 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 19, 2012 7:36:34 AM PST
Scrambled apparently!!!...Talk about a fate worse than death

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 7:39:53 AM PST
That is pretty mind blowing all around and one heck of a discovery. Really interested in what else they find out and how this can improve patient care. Can't imagine what families going through this sort of ordeal are experiencing but this has got to provide some comfort being able to communicate (even on very basic levels) with loved ones.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 7:41:20 AM PST
Vampires or werewolves?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 7:42:17 AM PST
MrFoxhound says:
I have a DNR. Once I'm out of here, I want to stay gone. One life on this planet is enough for me.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 7:42:37 AM PST
Vampires of course!!!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 7:42:55 AM PST
Cake or pie?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 7:44:14 AM PST
MrFoxhound says:
With Twilight you get both, you just have no balls.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 7:52:42 AM PST
Twinkies*

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 7:53:26 AM PST
A DNR wouldn't help you if you ended up in a veggie state!!!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 8:02:12 AM PST
Spit or swallow?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 8:05:58 AM PST
Shut up!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 8:07:10 AM PST
You finally convince me you're a woman and you tell me to shut up when I ask a womanly question. Sigh.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 8:08:28 AM PST
Why *sigh*...You were hoping for a man???

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 8:09:55 AM PST
No.
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Discussion in:  Video Games forum
Participants:  14
Total posts:  39
Initial post:  Nov 19, 2012
Latest post:  Nov 19, 2012

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