Medics Able to Communicate with Coma Patients


A group of Canadian researchers were able to talk to a coma patient. It was found that a person in a vegetative state is well aware of what is happening to him/her and can answer simple questions. The study is published in the JAMA Neurology journal.

The researchers used the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) device to scan brain activity. First, the scientists tested the equipment on 15 healthy volunteers. Then, the method was applied to two patients of the clinic: one of them was in a minimal conscious state, while the other was in a persistent vegetative state.

The people subjected to the experiment were asked simple questions, demanding simple “yes” or “no” answers. The imaging results showed that the people not only heard and understood the questions, but also answered them. As the researchers found, the patients remembered their name and realized that they were in a hospital room. According to experts, this study is considered the most advanced in the field of neurobiology.

Several years ago, doctors witnessed a truly incredible event. A young female basketball player continued to play in a state of coma. Even being in an unconscious state, Maggie Meyer from high school retained the ability to throw balls into the basket.

For the athlete’s muscles not to atrophy, the position of her body was changed several times a day. When she was put in a wheelchair and strapped to the back, the parents decided to put a ball in their daughter’s hands for Maggie to remember who she was. Then the reflexes, tried and tested over the years, began to differentiate themselves.

Neurologist William Graf suggested that throwing the ball had become one of Maggie’s basic instincts, so the skills of playing basketball awakened in her sooner than all others.