Hope For Vegetative Patients?

Those who have loved ones in the hospital should be glad to know that in a recent study on vegetative patients, signs for metabolic activity were discovered, allowing doctors to more accurately predict whether a person will regain consciousness or not.

While this new research does in no way claim to have found a new way to increase the chances of survival through a coma, it does suggest a new method which can help in predicting whether or not a recovery is underway or not.

Published in The Lancet, Belgium researchers tracked and studied 120 patients, those diagnosed as either minimally conscious, locked in, or vegetative – for at least a year, in which PET scans were taken regularly. The researchers were able to predict almost 3 out of 4 of the times whether a patient would gain consciousness the next year and predict 9 out of 10 times whether a patient would remain in a coma or not.

With these PET scans, the researchers looked over the metabolic patterns on the brain. The researchers argued that PET scans would be much more effective at predicting success than fMRIs due to their ability to show metabolic patterns.

With these metabolic patterns, out of 41 patients, there was evidence for minimal consciousness in 13 of them. In the 13, nine of the patients were able to progress into a state of slightly higher consciousness, showing signs of recovery, while three had died, and one remained without progress.

The researchers claim that this way with the observation of metabolic patterns with PET scans, it would be much easier to tell whether or not a recovery is underway or not. What’s’ more stressed here is the fact that some families hold onto false hope at times, with the belief that recovery is still possible when evidence goes against it. Sometimes, it might really just mean goodbye. Now, we’ll know more accurately whether or not it is so.

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