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Nerve stimulation restores patient consciousness

27 September 2017

A full randomised controlled clinical trial is really needed to fully evaluate the effectiveness of vagal nerve stimulation in people in a vegetative state'. More recently it was discovered that vagus nerve stimulation could potentially be an effective anti-inflammatory treatment.

Sirigu is an author of a study released Monday by the journal Current Biology. "Brain plasticity and brain fix are still possible even when hope seems to have vanished", said corresponding author Angela Sirigu, from Institut des Sciences Cognitives Marc Jeannerod.

Sirigu noted that "after VNS, the patient could respond to simple orders that were impossible before". But lets hope such an announcement? These targeted the vagus nerve, which is considered to be a "critical brain signal superhighway" as it can send information from the brain stem to many parts of the body.

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By stimulating the vagus nerve, "it is possible to improve a patient's presence in the world", said Angela Sirigu of Institut des Sciences Cognitives Marc Jeannerod in Lyon, France.

In this new research, a vagus nerve stimulator was implanted on the chest of the patient, who was in a vegetative state because of a auto accident, a procedure conducted by Jacques Luauté and his team of clinicians. He was able to physically respond to external stimuli six months later.

The researchers were able to record major changes in the man's brain activity after the stimulation was performed, including signs pointing to increased electrical communication between different regions of the brain and increased activity in areas associated with awareness, movement, and sensation.

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However, the treatment did not permit him to return to her state of consciousness original.

The 35-year-old patient had been in a vegetative state, asleep most of the time or unresponsive to his surroundings, since he was injured in a auto accident 15 years before, reports Ars Technica. "Stimulation resulted in "general arousal, sustained attention, body motility and visual pursuit" and scores on the Coma Recovery Scale-Revised 'as reported by clinicians and family members, '" he said. But the mode of stimulation used, and so on to the thalamus, was much more invasive. Scientists are now seeking to use the same technique on other patients to see if it could work more widely. "The coma is a disorder of consciousness, indicates the Pr checker board". The main difference, however, is that people in a vegetative state - also known as "apallic syndrome" or "unresponsive wakefulness syndrome" - still retain some sort of wakefulness, or at least they give this impression. Scientists, if they are enthusiastic about, called, however, to be cautious.

Vagus nerve stimulation involves delivery of electrical pulses to the vagus nerve, which plays an important role in waking, alertness and other essential functions. "But the brain is a complex machine that takes years to form, so it seems very hard to imagine that in areas of "broken" can be "repaired" fully after so much damage and time", says the neurologist, who also emphasizes that these results, obtained on the study of a single patient, " still need to be confirmed in other patients ".

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Nerve stimulation restores patient consciousness