EEG scan offers new hope for communication with brain-damaged patients

EEG scan offers new hope for communication with brain-damaged patientsWashington, Nov 10 : Detectable brain signals can act as potent channels to communicate with patients in vegetative state, a new study has revealed.

New research using a portable electrode test has revealed that nearly 20 percent of those previously determined to be vegetative state may be consciously aware of their surroundings, ABC News reported.

“The assumption that they lack awareness is based on the assumption that there are no outward signs they are aware,” said Adrian Owen, co-author of the study.

Owen and his colleagues subjected 16 patients in a vegetative state to electroencephalography (EEG) machines and asked the patients to move their right hands and their toes, and repeated the test with 12 healthy patients as well.

The EEG indicated brain activity in front part of the brain in three of the 16 patients, the same area that showed activity in the healthy group, which suggested that they understood and responded to those commands.

One of the patients who responded to the command had been in a vegetative state for nearly two years.

Owen called EEG a portable and more affordable technique that could potentially, ‘assess consciousness at the bedside’ as compared to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, which have been used in various studies over the last five years.

The researchers revealed that they are planning to work towards creating a ‘brain computer interface’, an EEG operating computer response system to help patients who are conscious communicate more regularly.

“This opens up a whole new world of communicating with these patients to see what their world is like,” said Owen.

The results have been recently published in Lancet. (ANI)