Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Saturday 28 November |
Saint of the Day: Pope St. Gregory III
home iconNews
line break icon

Scientists use nerve implant to rouse a man from a vegetative state after 15 years

CONSCIOUSNESS

agsandrew - Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 09/26/17

The findings raise hope for loved ones of patients in states of limited consciousness.

The French National Center for Scientific Research has completed their first successful test of a neural implant that can restore consciousness to patients who are in a persistent vegetative state, also known as unresponsive wakefulness. The subject of the experiment was a male patient who had been in such a state for the last 15 years, since he was 20 years old.

According to the Guardian, after the implant, the man appeared to flicker back into a state of consciousness. He was able to track objects with his eyes, remain attentive when read to, and he even reacted when lead researcher Dr. Angela Sirigu suddenly moved her face up close to his. However, he remains palsied and unable to speak.

Sirigu remarked in a statement, “Brain plasticity and brain repair are still possible even when hope seems to have vanished.”

For decades, it has been all but a certainty that patients unconscious for more one year would be unlikely to awaken. The results of Sirigu’s research efforts have made a compelling case that consciousness can be restored after a much longer time.

IFLScience! reports that the implant works by stimulating the vagus nerve:

The vagus nerve connects the brain to the gut, along with other parts of the body. Stimulation has been shown to sometimes offer benefits to people with depression or epilepsy. It’s also known to have a role in the process of waking from sleep, and in keeping us alert.

While this treatment is still a long way from restoring full cognitive function, the results of this research brings new hope to those who care for people with unresponsive wakefulness syndrome.

Tags:
MedicineScienceTechnology
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful...
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to t...
FIRST CENTURY HOUSE AT THE SISTERS OF NAZARETH SITE
John Burger
British archaeologist confident he has found ...
PRAY
Cerith Gardiner
12 Things we can be grateful for this Thanksg...
VATICAN POPE GOOD FRIDAY COLOSSEUM
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Learn to pray with the early Church and to di...
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio's favorite prayer of petition
EARTHQUAKE
Bret Thoman, OFS
Two earthquakes couldn't stop these Italian n...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.