Comatose Communication and How It Can Help
Mrs. Rhonda Bourlotos
English Honors I, Period 2
7 December 2012
It is 10:33 AM. You are awaken abruptly from your alarm. You prepare yourself for the day ahead. The day has been going well so far. It is now 12:25 PM. You step into your vehicle hoping to stop at the best burger place in town for lunch. The preceding are the last thing you remember when you wake up cold, sweaty, and drowsy from your coma. Changing perspectives, you are a family member now. Your brother has been in a horrific car accident and is in a coma for thirteen days now. How will you communicate with him? How will you tell him that you love him and are here for him? Most importantly, how do you know that he is still alive? For those who don 't know, a coma is a persistent vegetative state, also known as PVS. Coma is also defined as a state of almost total unresponsiveness to external stimulation in which the patient lies with his eyes closed. It is a condition in which the normal cognitive and communicative functioning of the patient is hampered.
A coma may occur for various reasons, such as intoxication, CNS (central nervous system) diseases, a serious injury, and hypoxia (oxygen deprivation). But there have been a number of cases across the world like the example mentioned above. A 26-year-old patient named Kate Bainbridge had a viral infection which had put her in a coma — a condition that generally persists for two to four weeks, after which patients die, recover fully or, in rare cases, slip into a vegetative or a minimally conscious state.(Tutton) And there is most notably Rom Houben, also known as Patient 23. Allan Hall reports “Alive but unresponsive, he has been in a coma for 23 years since he has been 24 years old.” Ongoing research in the field of comatose communication has found out that there may be small “islands” of consciousness, even in persistent vegetative states, like such in Houben’s case. And this is how, through comatose
Cited: Cyranoski, David. "Neuroscience: The Mind Reader." Nature.com. Nature Publishing Group, 13 June 2012. Web. 07 Dec. 2012. Hall, Allan. "Man Trapped in 23-year 'coma ' Reveals Horror..." Mail Online. N.p., 23 Nov. 2009. Web. 21 Nov. 2012. Tutton, Mark. "Trapped 'coma ' Man: How Was He Misdiagnosed?" CNN. N.p., 24 Nov. 2009. Web. 1 Dec. 2012.