Amazing university research connects with a man in a coma
Researchers at Western University have done something remarkable: communicated with a man in a “vegetative state.”
Using MRI technology, Professor Adrian Owen and Postdoctoral Fellow Lorina Naci have determined that a man in a coma – the result of a serious car accident – is aware of his surroundings and his identity. This is a breakthrough finding that challenges many of the assumptions about “vegetative” patients, and gives hope to their families.
From the Globe and Mail article by James Bradshaw:
“For any number of patients, we think this technique takes communication with them to the next level,” said Dr. Naci, the study’s lead researcher. She described meeting with Mr. Routley’s family to tell them the results of the experiment as “quite emotional,” vindicating their conviction that Mr. Routley isn’t simply “suspended in the middle of nowhere, mentally speaking,” as Dr. Owen put it.
Dr. Owen, a Canada Research Chair, runs a lab at Western that involves many graduate and undergraduate students in this exciting research. This is an incredible opportunity for these students, one that is only possible through a strong connection between teaching and research. When these two things are combined within a university, amazing things happen.
Check out this 2011 interview on TVO’s “The Agenda” where Dr. Owen talks about his work.