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'Vegetative' patient gives clear responses, doctor reports

November 15, 2012

A British man who was said to be in a “vegetative state” after a traumatic accident 12 years ago has shown clear evidence of understanding, a researcher has announced.

The patient, Scott Routley, was asked questions while clinicians scanned his brain to detect activity. The results showed comprehension, neuroscientist Adrian Owen: "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."

The finding should prompt new questions about the “vegetative” diagnosis, and about decisions to terminate care for, or remove vital organs from, patients who are diagnosed as unresponsive.


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