Read More: Daily Mail Online
Patients in a so-called persistent vegetative state, caught between life and death, appear to be brain dead. But are they? Their families often think they are still ‘in there’, but doctors disagree. British neuroscientist Adrian Owen made it his mission to reach these forgotten patients, as he reveals here… When I first met Carol, she had lain in a hospital bed for months without responding or showing any sign of awareness. A scan had revealed substantial damage to the frontal lobes of her brain, which control our important cognitive abilities, such as problem-solving, memory, language and judgment. In July 2005, the married 23-year-old had been hit by two cars while crossing a busy road. A moment’s distraction had redefined the rest of her life. She had repeatedly been tested by neurologists and diagnosed as vegetative. But was she? Since 1997, I had been using hospital brain scanners to test patients in vegetative states to see if they were in fact still conscious, though trapped in their bodies.