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Vegetative State Article Summary

Essay by   •  February 6, 2011  •  Essay  •  440 Words (2 Pages)  •  1,336 Views

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Woman in vegetative state plays tennis in her head

A 23 year old, British woman appeared to have brain responses to oral commands given to her. She meets all of the official criteria for the "vegetative state" classification, yet tests have proven that her brain is still responsive. The woman had been completely unresponsive since she was injured in a car accident

Her brain waves were tested by "functional magnetic imaging", or an fMRI. She listened to sentences and the tests showed that her brain had the same response to the sentences as test subjects in a healthy mental state. When asked to imagine certain actions, playing tennis and taking a tour of every room in her house, her brain scan showed the same parts of the brain light up as the control group. Because she can mentally respond to oral commands, scientists say that she was consciously aware of where she was and what was being said to her, even though she couldn't physically respond to any of it.

Other scientists are saying that the woman was simply a rare case and that her head injury was more likely to heal faster than those who had suffered severe stroke or heart attack, like Schiavo had the previous year. They also argue that her responses didn't necessarily mean that she was conscious or had the capability to make a decision as to whether or not to respond. A person could touch something hot and immediately take their hand away without thinking and willing themselves to do it.

This study could affect any living person with a brain, particularly those who were interested in the Schiavo case. Nobody can ever know if they will one day be in a vegetative state and may want to re-think their living wills. The study could be the foundation of a study in determining if the qualifications for the classification of the "vegetative state" are valid, and whether or not it is possible to still have brain activity while in this state. It could also lead to a break-through in helping people who have suffered sever head trauma regain consciousness.

I think this article was written well because it provided two different sides to the article and presented both arguments, and the information in an unbiased way. It suggested that the woman was simply a rare case or possibly many others are capable of the same brain responses to oral commands. There is still a lot more research that needs



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