1 in 5 vegetative patients is conscious. This neuroscientist finds them.

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  • What if vegetative patients are conscious? Neuroscientist Adrian Owen, author of Into The Gray Zone and a professor at Western University in Canada, is using fMRI technology to try to reach the people who may still be aware of their surroundings.
  • Consciousness has traditionally been assessed by asking patients to respond to verbal commands. Through brain imaging, Dr Owen and his team were able to prove that these tests are inadequate, and it’s estimated that 20 percent of vegetative patients are conscious but are physically incapable of communicating it.
  • “Communication is the thing that really makes us human,” says Dr. Owen. “If we can give these patients back the ability to make decisions, I think we can give them back a little piece of their humanity.”

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