What Would A Coma Be Like?

Have you ever thought about that? I have. My mother’s oldest sister died a terrible death. She had worked in a plastics factory where she was exposed to some pretty awful chemicals. It was one of those things that would be hell to prove in court, but the family always figured that those chemicals contributed to her health problems. The doctors did not have a clue what had happened to her.

Her body just got rigid. She could not move anything except her eyes. Couldn’t talk. Couldn’t clean herself. Couldn’t feed herself. Not so much as even lifting a finger. But her eyes moved. She would look at you. It was obvious she knew everything that was going on around her. She was a prisoner in a body that just refused to function. To me, that would be a total Hell. If there was anything good about it, she did not last long.

I suppose that would not really count as a coma. But, now, it turns out that some “vegetative state” victims may be experiencing something far closer to what my aunt experienced than the medical community would have supposed.

Somebody got the idea to hook up some sophisticated brain monitors to a bunch of these patients. Then, the researchers began to talk to the patients and tell them to think about different activities. In a “normal” brain, different parts of the brain “lights up” depending on what the person thinks about: For instance, playing tennis versus listening to a concert.

For most of the patients, asking them to think about different activities did nothing to the brain waves. But for a few (20-30%), the reaction was the same as for a “normal” brain. And in at least one case, the researchers were able to set up signals for yes and no. They asked detailed questions about his life before his head injury. He answered every question accurately. Sounds awfully close to what went on with my aunt.

The study was published in a recent New England Journal of Medicine. There is a fairly detailed article about it on the Washington Post web site. Here is the link for the article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/03/AR2010020302887.html?wpisrc=nl_headline

It will be interesting to see where this research leads in the next few months. There could be huge breakthroughs in the treatment of these cases.

Hypnotists have been using “finger signals” for years to get yes/no answers from the subconscious and bypass the conscious mind. In fact, hypnosis is so effective largely because we communicate directly with the subconscious. At that level, it is easy to change things.

What about your life would you like to change?