Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New test for consciousness in 'comatose' patients

Date:
November 10, 2011
Source:
University of Liège
Summary:
Researchers have developed a portable test which will permit a simpler and less expensive diagnosis of 'vegetative' patients who still have consciousness, despite the fact that they do not have the means to express it.

Certain patients with severe traumatic damage can no longer control a single muscle, but the recording of the brain’s electrical responses (using high density electroencephalography – EEG) to simple demands (‘move your foot’ or ‘move your hand’) enables doctors to demonstrate that they are indeed conscious.
Credit: © comascience.org ULg

The Coma Science Group (CRCyclotron, University of Liège /Liège University Hospital), led by Dr Steven Laureys, has developed, along with its partners in London, Ontario, (Canada) and Cambridge (England), a portable test which will permit a simpler and less expensive diagnosis of 'vegetative' patients who still have consciousness, despite the fact that they do not have the means to express it.

The researchers' conclusions are published this week in The Lancet.

The desire to develop this simple test of consciousness, at the patient's bedside, follows on from previous research carried out by the Coma Science Group. Professor Steven Laureys and his colleagues had in effect already demonstrated, in 2009, that 40% of so-called 'vegetative' patients had been badly diagnosed and that in reality they retained a certain degree of consciousness. Following on from this study Laureys' team at the University Hospital of Liège, on the recommendation of the Federal Health Service, was able to prescribe the compulsory use of a specially designed scale of consciousness (the coma recovery scale), now used in every coma specialist centre in Belgium.

In 2010 the Coma Science Group researchers and their colleagues at Cambridge (England) made another fundamental breakthrough in showing that it was possible to communicate with 'vegetative' patients through the means of scanners whose technology was based on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Classically, the clinical evaluation of coma always proceeded via a muscular response to a stimulus. This study showed that, thanks to fMRI, a doctor could detect traces of consciousness and even communicate with so-called 'vegetative' patients due to the fact that they mentally responded in an appropriate manner to a task suggested by the evaluator. Scientifically revolutionary, using functional magnetic resonance imaging in the evaluation of comas is nevertheless very expensive, and not every hospital is equipped with or has access to it.

The new test described this week in The Lancet should change this situation. "As doctors, we as a rule ask the patient to respond to a simple command, such as 'pinch my hand,' to assure us that the patient is conscious. When we obtain a response, everything is fine, but if we cannot detect a response that does not necessarily mean to say that the patient is unconscious. Sometimes he or she cannot move because injuries have affected the nerves, the spinal cord or the brain," explains Dr Laureys. "With our new test, we also ask patients to move their hand or their foot, but we no longer have confidence in the muscular response. We measure the activity of the motor cortex directly using electroencephalography (EEG), a cheaper method which is widespread throughout the hospital centres."

"That means that this portable test can be carried out in every health care centre and even at home!" states Camille Chatelle, a neuropsychologist and one of the new study's co-authors.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Liège. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Damian Cruse, Srivas Chennu, Camille Chatelle, Tristan A. Bekinschtein, Davinia Fernández-Espejo, John D. Pickard, Steven Laureys, Adrian M. Owen. Bedside detection of awareness in the vegetative state: a cohort study. The Lancet, 2011; DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(11)61224-5

Cite This Page:

University of Liège. "New test for consciousness in 'comatose' patients." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111109193646.htm>.
University of Liège. (2011, November 10). New test for consciousness in 'comatose' patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111109193646.htm
University of Liège. "New test for consciousness in 'comatose' patients." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111109193646.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) — A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Companies Ramp Up Wellness to Lower Health Costs

Companies Ramp Up Wellness to Lower Health Costs

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) — That little voice telling you to exercise, get in shape and get healthy is probably coming from your boss. More companies are beefing up wellness programs to try and cut down their health care costs. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Wants To Ban Sales Of E-Cigarettes To Minors

FDA Wants To Ban Sales Of E-Cigarettes To Minors

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) — The Food and Drug Administration wants to crack down on the use of e-cigarettes, banning the sale of the product to minors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye'

Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye'

AP (Apr. 23, 2014) — A legally blind Michigan man is 'seeing something new every day' thanks to a high-tech retinal implant procedure. He's one of the first in the country to receive a 'bionic eye' since the federal government approved the surgery. (April 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins