World

Experimental therapy awakened a patient who was for 15 years in a coma

Incurable signs of conscious recovery were identified by experts at a 35-year-old who had been hospitalized for 15 years after experimental treatment. The treatment of the 35-year-old, who had been injured in a car accident, included his excitation through a device in his chest.

As the BBC writes, within a month a man could respond to simple commands, turn his head and follow an object with his eyes. Experts estimate the results are potentially excellent, but the process needs to be repeated to substantiate.

The Vagal Nerve Stimulation (VNS) is likely not to have the same effects in patients with other brain damage, they explain. Angela Sirigu, of the Institut des Sciences Cognitives Marc Jeannerod, in Lyon, France, however, argues that a really difficult patient case was chosen to test the treatment.

The parasympathetic connects the brain with many parts of the body and helps control the automatic or subconscious functions. After a month of stimulation, the patient’s mother reported that his ability to stay awake was improved by listening to his therapist reading a book.

According to the publication, in Current Biology, the tomographies confirmed this improvement. He also began to react to possible “threats”, for example when the doctor approached him abruptly, he was surprised to see his eyes wide open.

Brain versatility and the ability to replenish it is possible even when hope seems to have been lost,. “It may be an interesting solution but we should be cautious with the results until it is achieved in more patients,” commented Dr Vladimir Litvak, from The Wellcome Center for Human Neuroimaging at the University of Neuroscience, University of London. “It’s hard to know, based on a single case, how this treatment can work in more patients.”