What Are They Thinking?
September 8, 2006 6:49 AM   Subscribe

Vegetative Patient 'Communicates' Sort of.
posted by MarshallPoe (25 comments total)
This makes watching Life On Mars all the more interesting.
posted by smallerdemon at 7:05 AM on September 8, 2006

Well, no.
posted by jellicle at 7:06 AM on September 8, 2006

There's a bit more info on this at the MRC Cognition and brain Sciences Unit's news page and the researcher's page.
posted by jamespake at 7:07 AM on September 8, 2006

posted by thirteenkiller at 7:16 AM on September 8, 2006

Makes me think of the movie in the Metallica "One" video.
posted by witchstone at 7:20 AM on September 8, 2006

If only they discovered that she was singing Metalica's "One" to herself.
posted by tsarfan at 7:21 AM on September 8, 2006

posted by tsarfan at 7:22 AM on September 8, 2006

So, this isn't about Bush's latest press conference?
posted by Flashman at 7:32 AM on September 8, 2006

Electricity can perhaps awaken some of these patients.
posted by caddis at 7:34 AM on September 8, 2006

I am convinced there are vegetative patients posting on MetaFilter.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:56 AM on September 8, 2006

I'm surprised (I guess) by the response to this (my) post. Snark? When I read this article it scared the hell out of me. I'm about to get married and I was just having the "end of life" discussion with my fiancee. We both agreed (just yesterday!) that we'd want to be unplugged if we were in a permanent veg state. But now....
posted by MarshallPoe at 8:13 AM on September 8, 2006

I think the word 'snark' is being applied too broadly lately. Stuff here is pretty light-hearted.
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:21 AM on September 8, 2006

i would be happy just to see the FMRI image of a vegitative patient listening to "one".
posted by snofoam at 8:24 AM on September 8, 2006

she's communicating with Bill Frist
posted by matteo at 8:24 AM on September 8, 2006 [1 favorite]

MarshallPoe, what this shows you is that we're developing the technology to ASK you if you want to be unplugged, instead of just assuming. And it will mean you're not completely cut off, forced to lie there bored and in the dark. If you are still in there, your family will still be able to reach you and communicate, instead of just reading and hoping somehow it might be helping. They'll KNOW it's helping.

I see this as a wonderful development, personally. The whole situation is scary as hell, and this is a lifeline into a very dark place indeed.
posted by Malor at 8:28 AM on September 8, 2006

Being conscious yet unable to communicate or interact with the outside world is pretty much my definition of hell. I would probably last about five minutes before going irreversably insane. If this happens to me I hope that my loved ones would kill me by any means necessary. Good lord, what a nightmare.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:34 AM on September 8, 2006

So now we take her brain, right, and put it into a 12 foot mech that she can use as her new body. And we'll supply her with missiles and flame throwers and then she'll go out and fight crime!

Back to reality: I echo what Optimus said, its almost like the song One from Metallica.
posted by Vindaloo at 8:36 AM on September 8, 2006

This reminds me of that one song by Metallica...Can't remember the name of the song, though.
posted by Bugbread at 11:12 AM on September 8, 2006

"So would you like a lethal injection? For yes, think tennis, for no think golf.

"Lacrosse?! Yeah, very funny."
posted by riotgrrl69 at 12:03 PM on September 8, 2006 [2 favorites]

not this shit again.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 12:55 PM on September 8, 2006

I'm surprised (I guess) by the response to this (my) post. Snark?

Actually, Life On Mars is a pretty cool show than this article has some direct connection to that I really find interesting. So mine personally was not snark, just thoughtful connectionism.
posted by smallerdemon at 2:26 PM on September 8, 2006

i_am_a_Jedi : "not this shit again."

posted by Bugbread at 2:36 PM on September 8, 2006

The footage used in that one Metallica video was from the movie Johnny Got His Gun, which is a play off a line in the jingoist war song Over There.

The song Hot Shot City is particularly good.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 3:26 PM on September 8, 2006

A few years ago, a family I was acquainted with got in a terrible car accident. I believe most of the kids survived, but the parents both sustained severe and fatal injuries. Keith (the father) was in a coma for a while before he died, though.

At the funeral, Keith's brother talked about how big a part of Keith's life music was. He had an excellent ear and could generally listen to a song on the radio and quickly learn to play it quite well. One that he especially loved to play for his children was Billy Joel's "Lullabye."

While the kids were still in the hospital and before Keith died, but after it was obvious that this was the only outcome, his oldest daugther went with Keith's brother and took a recording of "Lullabye" to Keith's room. They put some headphones on his head and played it for him, and as he listened to it, he cried. That was the only response he ever made to anything between the accident and his death.

I expect there's a wide variation between patients in a coma vegetative state, so I'm cautious about generalizing from this story as far as what remains in a person that badly injured, or how to treat (or not treat) them. But it remains an exceptionally powerful tale to me. Keith was apparently unresponsive and beyond verification of consciousness or communication. But enough apparently remained of him to respond to the music he'd used to link himself with his children. That's something.
posted by weston at 6:30 PM on September 8, 2006

I would probably last about five minutes before going irreversably insane.

Or perhaps you would achieve enlightenment and enter another "dimension." No one knows.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:50 PM on September 8, 2006

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