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Old 11-23-2009, 03:10 PM   #1
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Man Trapped in Coma for 23 Years

Just ran into this, found it an interesting topic.

Car crash victim trapped in 'coma' for 23 years was conscious | World news | guardian.co.uk

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For 23 years Rom Houben was trapped in his own body, unable to communicate with his doctors or family. They presumed he was in a vegetative state following a near-fatal car crash in 1983.
But then doctors used a state-of-the-art scanning system on the brain of the martial arts enthusiast, which showed it was functioning almost normally.
"I had dreamed myself away," said Houben, now 46, whose real "state" was discovered three years ago and has just been made public by the doctor who rescued him.
Steven Laureys, a neurologist at the University of Liège in Belgium, has published a scientific paper saying Houben could be one of many falsely diagnosed coma cases around the world.
Houben is being cared for at a facility near Brussels and now communicates via a computer with a special keyboard activated with his right hand, which is capable of minimal movement. He said his body was paralysed when he came round after his accident. Although he could hear every word his doctors spoke, he could not communicate with them.
"I screamed, but there was nothing to hear," he said, via his keyboard.
Houben then suffered years of being effectively trapped in his own body as care personnel and doctors at the hospital in Zolder tried to communicate with him, but eventually gave up hope that he would ever come round.
The moment it was discovered he was not in a vegetative state, said Houben, it was like being born again. "I'll never forget the day that they discovered me, it was my second birth."
Experts say Laureys' findings are likely to reopen the debate over when the decision should be made to terminate the lives of those in comas who appear to be unconscious but might have almost fully-functioning brains.
Belgian doctors used an internationally accepted scale to monitor Houben's state over the years. Known as the Glasgow Coma Scale, it requires assessment of the eyes, verbal and motor responses. But they failed to assess him correctly and missed signs that his brain was still functioning.
Laureys, who is head of the coma science group and neurology department at Liège University hospital, concluded coma patients are diagnosed falsely "on a disturbingly regular basis". In around 40% of cases diagnosed as vegetative, more careful examination shows there is still some level of consciousness. He examined 44 patients believed to be in a vegetative state, and found that 18 of them responded to communication.
"Once someone is labelled as being without consciousness, it is very hard to get rid of that," he told Spiegel magazine, calling for a systematic overhaul of the methods of diagnosis.
Laureys said patients who are not fully unconscious can often be treated and are capable of making considerable progress.
Around a fifth of patients who suffer serious head and brain injuries spend more than three weeks in a coma. Of those, between 15% and 25% are, technically speaking, still alive but remain in a state of unconsciousness, never to wake up.
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Old 11-23-2009, 05:39 PM   #2
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23 years! I cant even begin to imagine that. The boredom must've been unfathomable. I'm surprised he was able to keep his sanity. I'm interested in knowing what he thought about the whole time.
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Old 11-23-2009, 05:42 PM   #3
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Terri Schiavo histrionics in 3... 2... 1...
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Old 11-23-2009, 05:44 PM   #4
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Terri Schiavo histrionics in 3... 2... 1...
My first thought, too.
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Old 11-23-2009, 05:44 PM   #5
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Terri Schiavo histrionics in 3... 2... 1...
Good One...
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Old 11-23-2009, 05:49 PM   #6
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I imagine the best part of his life is when he is sleeping.
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Old 11-23-2009, 06:00 PM   #7
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He obviously couldnt movie his eyes either, so its not like he could even look around. 23 years spend completely inside your own head must be... i dont even know what. I cant get my head around it. Reminds me of the One video by Metallica
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Old 11-23-2009, 06:01 PM   #8
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wow.....i bet he's pumped to listen The Joshua Tree.
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Old 11-23-2009, 08:03 PM   #9
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what a nightmare. just a nightmare.
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Old 11-23-2009, 08:43 PM   #10
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[quote]
Quote:
although he could hear every word his doctors spoke, he could not communicate with them./quote]
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Old 11-23-2009, 08:56 PM   #11
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Diamond, I dont understand why you quoted that
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Old 11-23-2009, 09:00 PM   #12
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diamond, i dont understand why you quoted that

Quote:
experts say laureys' findings are likely to reopen the debate over when the decision should be made to terminate the lives of those in comas who appear to be unconscious but might have almost fully-functioning brains.
Quote:
in around 40% of cases diagnosed as vegetative, more careful examination shows there is still some level of consciousness. He examined 44 patients believed to be in a vegetative state, and found that 18 of them responded to communication.
"once someone is labelled as being without consciousness, it is very hard to get rid of that," he told spiegel magazine, calling for a systematic overhaul of the methods of diagnosis.


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Old 11-23-2009, 09:03 PM   #13
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I'm a little disturbed by the apparent fact that checking for brain activity isn't among the list of things to do with patients who appear to be in a coma.
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Old 11-23-2009, 09:11 PM   #14
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<>
Oh, I see. It was a comment on euthanasia. But, as Diemen pointed out, dont you think the problem lies more in the negligence to simply conduct a scan of brain activity? I mean, either you agree with euthanasia or you dont, but I dont think any proponents would say that such a test shouldnt first be carried out before making a decision. As it said, some cases have a fully functioning brain while others dont

Either way, I'm still horrified that the man was conscious for 23 years and couldnt do anything about it
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Old 11-23-2009, 09:14 PM   #15
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Yeah. That whole re-opening of the debate could be completely avoided by making it standard practice (I'm flabbergasted it isn't already) to check for brain activity in patients who appear to be unconscious/in a coma.

But reopening a needless debate provides much more drama.
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