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September 08, 2006



What's clear to me is that anybody, in any state, who's bedridden for long periods needs stimulating experiences on a regular basis. The brain responds better and has something to get better for, if it's given something to work on.

And no, I'm pretty sure keeping the TV blaring at all times doesn't count. That'd be enough to send you _into_ a coma!

Picking out an interesting variety of programs, music, audiobooks, etc, and having them on part of the day might help, though -- sorta like educational TV for coma patients, maybe. Dora the Explorer-type interactive questions and instructions. Maybe podcasts that have someone talking about their day, since they're more personal in tone -- like a visitor.

But I'm sure real visitors and daily therapy would probably help most.

Donald R. McClarey

Isn't it about time that society "pulled the plug" on the pvs diagnosis? As it has developed it is simply a sentence of death by which certain people with grave injuries can be put to death legally. This study demonstrates our woeful ignorance as to just what is going on in the mind of someone who is labeled pvs. Do not expect, however, this study to slow one whit the true advocates of euthanasia.

chris K

And they should always keep in mind the woman with the PVS diagnosis who came out of it to proclaim that she was aware of what people were saying and was screaming on the inside but could not communicate. She was interviewed during Terri's ordeal.

And about those brain cells:



"Isn't it about time that society "pulled the plug" on the pvs diagnosis?"

Let's do.

I couldn't believe the people who thought Terri's autopsy results were significant. Put a completely unimpaired person in a hospital bed in a dimly lit room with absolutely no stimulation, not even the stimulation of chewing and swallowing food, for ten years, and see what his brain would be like.


Some WSJ editorial months ago referred to "'Persistent Vegetative State' -- the magic words that cause the relatives to immediately pull the plug or face accusations of being Right Wing Fundamentalist Christians."

John Jansen

I haven't read many articles on this woman's case, but I can say that the Chicago Tribune story was hopelessly biased.

At one point, the writer editorialized that this was "the only case of its kind," and later noted that "there's no indication this young woman's experience is common."

Two questions:

(1) Wouldn't it have been more objective to have said -- if it's true -- that this is the only documented case of its kind?

(2) Exactly what indication is there to suggest that this young woman's experience is not common?

jane M

This reminds me of the doctors who used to say that newborn babies couldn't really see very well, and laughed at mothers who said the baby looked at them. Turns out that babies *look at faces* and when doctors started showing them pictures of faces, instead of whatever else, the babies snapped to attention. But they had ALWAYS been doing this, only now they had an imprimatur. If I were in a "vegetative" state and someone told me to mimic hitting a tennis ball I might not "pay attention" as you might say.


A persistent vegetative state, in which the patient is awake but has no awareness of self or surroundings

It is quite obvious from this story and from stories of patients who have woken up from pvs that this is not the case. We only don't know what patients in pvs go through, if their experiences are all similar etc.

Besides, there are states where people are unable to communicate, yet fully aware (locked-in syndrome or the thing Stephen Hawking has). If we lived a century ago and, say, Hawking didn't have the means to communicate with others through a computer, heshould be under the ground by now, according to such people.

I completely agree with Amy however: consciousness does not matter; as long as someone breathes on their own, he/she is very much alive.

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