Doctors have recently managed to wake up a coma patient by jump-starting his brain with an ultrasound technology.
Last February, Bradley Crehan was hit by a car and when his head banged on the ground he experienced severe head injury.
Because of the critical damage, doctors were required to surgically eliminate part of his skull and then induced a coma to help him improve. Two weeks later when the patient was in a minimally conscious state, signifying that he hardly showed signs of consciousness, the doctors were unable to wake the 25-year-old.
The patient could understand some of what was said around him and show small movements when doctors suggested him to, but that was about it. Partially recovering is common among patients who suffered from severe brain injury. These states could last for years but, unfortunately, the longer they last, the fewer chances a person has to ever fully wake up again.
The ultrasound technique procedure included a coffee cup size device that was placed against the side of the patient’s head over a 10-minute period, performing low-intensity pulses, generating acoustic energy to animate brain tissue. It followed the thalamus, a region of the brain that aids improve consciousness and process information. This area transmits stimuli to other parts of the brain and improves our movement, learning and thinking process.
In 2007, researchers handled a brain implant to stimulate the thalamus region in the brain of a man who had been in one of these states for six years. He partially regained the capacity to move and entirely regained the ability to speak. However, stimulating the brain demands implanting something inside the brain which is expensive and dangerous. The ultrasound technology used by the UCLA team is non-invasive.
Less than 24 hours after the ultrasound technique procedure, Bradley was reacting to doctors’ demands much more precisely. Within three days, he appeared to completely understand what people spoke around him, and he was also able to nod for a response.
The method was first invented at the University of California by Professor Alexander Bystritsky and is known as low-intensity focused ultrasound pulsation.
What do you think about this new technology that could help coma patients? Please give us your opinion in the comment section below.
Image source: Wikipedia