Some Permanent Vegetative State (PVS) patients showing awareness

  • Posted

Posted 15/11/2011

Reports of studies have just been issued showing that in some patients who have been said to be in a PVS, there is brain response to stimulation.

PVS is generally a diagnosis given where it is thought that the patient has no awareness at all of their surroundings and no meaningful brain function. This often results from brain injury either following trauma such as a road traffic accident or from major insult to the brain following a medical event such as brain surgery that has gone wrong, blood clot to the brain, or loss of oxygen to the brain resulting in partial brain death.Recent tests using an EEG which picks up brain activity through electrodes attached to the head, have shown that in a small number of patients their brain responds to requests to carry out physical tasks such as clenching the hand or moving their toes. This does not mean they can move their hand or toes but it does indicate that the brain is recognising the command and trying to initiate a physical response, showing that there is some brain activity remaining.It is always a tragedy for patients and their families when someone is left in a PVS and part of the agony for the family is not being sure whether there is any awareness at all remaining. Family members often feel that doctors are ignoring their belief that the patient is showing some recognition or meaningful behaviour. It may be that in the future a far more accurate picture can be taken of which of the patients do indeed have some awareness of their surroundings and their situation and which do not, and therefore there can be further research whether and to what extent some communication could be established.These findings highlight the advances that are being made into our knowledge of the brain and how it works and it is hoped that eventually these will lead to far more accurate assessments of the brain function and the potential of those who suffer devastating brain injury.Ashtons Legal handles a wide range of brain injury claims each year. Some of these are acquired brain injury as the result of an accident during someone’s lifetime, but many are cerebral palsy sufferers. In many birth injury cases, parents are reluctant to take legal action to start with, but come to realise that doing so is the only way in which they can secure their son or daughter’s long term care beyond their own life expectancy. If you would like individual advice about a birth injury claim, please contact Trefine Maynard on 01842 768730.


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