Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The use of magnetic resonance imaging improves the diagnosis of patients in a vegetative state

29.01.2009
A study led by researchers from Catalonia analyses the importance of the use of magnetic resonance imaging to improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients in a vegetative state.

Until now these tests have not been performed in this type of patient. The results show activation of the auditory and linguistic areas of the brain despite the absence of observable behavioural responses.

The aim of this study is “to analyse the response of the brain to language in a group of traumatised patients in a vegetative state or in a minimally responsive state”. The patients were examined using the technique of functional magnetic resonance imaging”, explains Carme Junqué to SINC, who is the principal researcher of the project at the University of Barcelona (UB) in collaboration with the University Institute of Neurorehabilitation in Guttman.

To test the areas of the brain involved in language comprehension in these patients showing no evidence of motor response, the research team performed magnetic resonance imaging on seven patients, three of whom were in a vegetative state and four in a minimally responsive state.

In this study, which will continue until the end of 2010, four of the seven patients showed cerebral activation in response to sound comparable to activation found in 19 healthy volunteers. Amongst these, there was one patient in a vegetative state and another in a minimally responsive state who both showed an appropriate activation in the areas of the brain involved with language processing when listening to various extracts from stories.

Until now the routine clinical tests these patients underwent, were not capable of detecting whether or not there was a cerebral response to language. However, the researcher tells SINC “although they look or cry, we do not know whether or not the patient is processing the information, whether they do it automatically or whether they do it consciously.

The interesting thing about the results obtained with the magnetic resonance imaging is that the evidence of comprehension of the language stimulus means a better prognosis and a change in the way they are treated by relatives and therapists.

The results show that when some of these patients listen to extracts from stories, for example short sentences such as “a person is walking by the sea and is listening to the waves”, complex areas of the brain are activated, “which suggests that the patients possess areas of perception in the brain where the information arrives”, the researcher confirms to SINC.

Studies such as this one do not make it possible to conclude that the patients “understand” language in the way that healthy people do, but they do confirm that the patient’s neural networks still work to guarantee this complex cognitive function. “As a result, this can lead to a substantial change in the motivation of carers and can be very useful in choosing the rehabilitative interventions”, Junqué emphasises.

What happens after craneoencephalic trauma?

After serious craneoencephalic trauma the patient experiences a phase of coma. Following this they can recover consciousness or progress towards what we call “a vegetative state”, which is characterised by the preservation of sleep-wake cycles, the autonomic control of respiratory and cardiac functions, and the absence of any evidence of self-awareness or the surroundings.

Patients are incapable of reacting to stimulation intentionally and do not show any ability to communicate. A patient can survive for years in a vegetative state or recover partial consciousness progressing towards what is known as a “minimally responsive state”.

Until now, the diagnosis of these patients has been based on exhaustive clinical assessments of the patient’s spontaneous behaviour in order to assess whether the patient is capable of perceiving or interacting with their surroundings, namely, whether they have the preserved complex mental capabilities in the absence of motor response.

At the present time, there is an intense debate in the clinical, legal and ethical domains about the suitability of the assessment protocols used for the diagnosis of these patients and the possibility of implementing rehabilitation programmes more suited to individual differences.

SINC Team | alfa
Further information:
http://www.plataformasinc.es

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Drought hits rivers first and more strongly than agriculture
06.09.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie

nachricht Landslides triggered by human activity on the rise
23.08.2018 | European Geosciences Union

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Hygiene at your fingertips with the new CleanHand Network

The Fraunhofer FEP has been involved in developing processes and equipment for cleaning, sterilization, and surface modification for decades. The CleanHand Network for development of systems and technologies to clean surfaces, materials, and objects was established in May 2018 to bundle the expertise of many partnering organizations. As a partner in the CleanHand Network, Fraunhofer FEP will present the Network and current research topics of the Institute in the field of hygiene and cleaning at the parts2clean trade fair, October 23-25, 2018 in Stuttgart, at the booth of the Fraunhofer Cleaning Technology Alliance (Hall 5, Booth C31).

Test reports and studies on the cleanliness of European motorway rest areas, hotel beds, and outdoor pools increasingly appear in the press, especially during...

Im Focus: Scientists present new observations to understand the phase transition in quantum chromodynamics

The building blocks of matter in our universe were formed in the first 10 microseconds of its existence, according to the currently accepted scientific picture. After the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago, matter consisted mainly of quarks and gluons, two types of elementary particles whose interactions are governed by quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of strong interaction. In the early universe, these particles moved (nearly) freely in a quark-gluon plasma.

This is a joint press release of University Muenster and Heidelberg as well as the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt.

Then, in a phase transition, they combined and formed hadrons, among them the building blocks of atomic nuclei, protons and neutrons. In the current issue of...

Im Focus: Patented nanostructure for solar cells: Rough optics, smooth surface

Thin-film solar cells made of crystalline silicon are inexpensive and achieve efficiencies of a good 14 percent. However, they could do even better if their shiny surfaces reflected less light. A team led by Prof. Christiane Becker from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has now patented a sophisticated new solution to this problem.

"It is not enough simply to bring more light into the cell," says Christiane Becker. Such surface structures can even ultimately reduce the efficiency by...

Im Focus: New soft coral species discovered in Panama

A study in the journal Bulletin of Marine Science describes a new, blood-red species of octocoral found in Panama. The species in the genus Thesea was discovered in the threatened low-light reef environment on Hannibal Bank, 60 kilometers off mainland Pacific Panama, by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (STRI) and the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) at the University of Costa Rica.

Scientists established the new species, Thesea dalioi, by comparing its physical traits, such as branch thickness and the bright red colony color, with the...

Im Focus: New devices based on rust could reduce excess heat in computers

Physicists explore long-distance information transmission in antiferromagnetic iron oxide

Scientists have succeeded in observing the first long-distance transfer of information in a magnetic group of materials known as antiferromagnets.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

"Boston calling": TU Berlin and the Weizenbaum Institute organize a conference in USA

21.09.2018 | Event News

One of the world’s most prominent strategic forums for global health held in Berlin in October 2018

03.09.2018 | Event News

4th Intelligent Materials - European Symposium on Intelligent Materials

27.08.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Establishing metastasis

25.09.2018 | Health and Medicine

Artificial intelligence to improve drug combination design & personalized medicine

25.09.2018 | Health and Medicine

Small modulator for big data

25.09.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>