Last month, a study came out that challenged a preconceived notion that consciousness disorders that lasted 12 or more months were not reversible. A study published in the journal Current Biology took its first step to changing this idea. A man who was in a vegetative state for 15 years is now showing signs of consciousness. How? A device implanted in the chest, called a vagus nerve stimulator, is helping improve brain activity.
Brain Injuries and the Vagus Nerve
Traumatic brain injuries and hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain), are a few causes for a vegetative state. When someone has a brain injury resulting in a vegetative state, the person will not show any signs of consciousness or mental and motor functions. The result of this recent study changes this thought, thanks to the vagus nerve.
The vagus nerve is a nerve in the brain that runs to other areas in the body, such as the heart or lungs. This nerve is “important for arousal, alertness and flight-or-fight response,” says Dr. Angela Sirigu, a neuroscientist in Lyon, France. The way the vagus nerve stimulator works is that the device is placed in a person’s chest. Then a connected wire goes under the skin and links to the vagus nerve. The device then sends electrical signals where the spinal cord and brain meet.
The man who has been in a vegetative state for 15 years, showed improved brain activity after one month of having the device. Although this man is not fully functional, it is a step closer to helping reverse permanent brain injuries.
Brain Injury Attorneys
Suffering from a brain injury is a life changing condition. These injuries happen after an unexpected accident, often times, due to the negligence of another. If you or someone you know has a brain injury that resulted from a car accident or medical malpractice, contact us today. Our experienced brain injury lawyers are ready to hear your case. Call our office at 216-308-1522 or fill out a contact form for a free consultation.