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Man thought to be in coma for 23 years conscious whole time

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Man thought to be in coma for 23 years conscious whole time

Old 11-25-09, 11:21 AM
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Man thought to be in coma for 23 years conscious whole time

http://www.examiner.com/x-28320-Worl...ous-whole-time

Brussels – A Belgian man, at age 23, Rom Houben was in a car crash and thought to be in a vegetative state for 23 years, however he was discovered to be fully conscious the entire time.

For years he listened to the conversations going on around him but he was unable to communicate with his doctors or family.

Now 46-years-old, the accident has left him paralyzed. Houben told AP Television News that years of being unable to move or communicate left him feeling “alone, lonely, frustrated, but also blessed with my family.”


“It was especially frustrating when my family needed me. I could not share in their sorrow. We could not give each other support,” he wrote, punching the words letter by letter into a touch screen with one finger held by an assistant at the ’t Weyerke institute in eastern Belgium. Houben is now communicating with one finger and a special touch screen on his wheelchair.


“Just imagine,” Houben typed. “You hear, see, feel and think but no one can see that. You undergo things. You cannot participate in life.”


During Houben’s two lost decades, his eyesight was poor, but the experts say he could hear doctors, nurses and visitors to his bedside, and feel the touch of a relative. He says that during that time, he heard his father had died, but he was unable to show any emotion.


Over the years, Houben’s skeptical mother took him to the United States five times for tests. More searching got her in touch with Laureys, who put Houben through a PET scan.
“We saw his brain was almost normal,” said neuropsychologist Audrey Vanhaudenhuyse, who has worked with Houben for three years.


The family and doctors then began trying to establish communication. A breakthrough came when he was able to indicate yes or no by slightly moving his foot to push a computer device placed there by Laureys’ team. Then came the spelling of words using the touch screen.


Houben’s condition has since been diagnosed as a form of “locked-in syndrome,” in which people are unable to speak or move but can think and reason.


With so much to say after suffering for so long in silence, Houben has started writing a book.
“He lives from day to day,” his 73-year-old mother said. “He can be funny and happy.” Recently he went to his father’s grave for the planting of a tree.


Heard about this on the radio this morning, surprised it wasn't here yet, searched but did't find anything. Talk about living out the greatest fear of many people. I couldn't even imagine being conscious the whole time, but not being able to communicate that. Hopefully nobody said anything bad around him, he's probably got some good stories and secrets.

Discuss.

Last edited by Duh Vuh Duh; 11-25-09 at 11:23 AM.
Old 11-25-09, 11:25 AM
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Re: Man thought to be in coma for 23 years conscious whole time

<img src="http://www.panfletonegro.com/volante/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/johnny-got-his-gun-film1.jpg">
Old 11-25-09, 11:43 AM
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Re: Man thought to be in coma for 23 years conscious whole time

So was this a story that inspired that House episode with a guy who was locked-in but the ER doc wanted to harvest his organs?
Old 11-25-09, 11:50 AM
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Re: Man thought to be in coma for 23 years conscious whole time

Old 11-25-09, 11:56 AM
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Re: Man thought to be in coma for 23 years conscious whole time

Gives new meaning to the word "bored."
Old 11-25-09, 12:16 PM
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Re: Man thought to be in coma for 23 years conscious whole time

More links:

http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/...s-to-stop.html

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/20...t_reportin.php

http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=1286

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2...m.php#comments
Old 11-25-09, 01:21 PM
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Re: Man thought to be in coma for 23 years conscious whole time

I've read about that "assistive typing" in patients with autism, and the studies I've read have shown it to be bunk. If you watch the video, the assistant is typing when the guy has his eyes closed. That be some skillz, baby! So she just instinctively knows what he wants to type?
Old 11-25-09, 03:17 PM
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Re: Man thought to be in coma for 23 years conscious whole time

I'm putting this on the list of shit I hope never happens to me.
Old 11-25-09, 05:14 PM
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Re: Man thought to be in coma for 23 years conscious whole time

Originally Posted by solipsta View Post
I've read about that "assistive typing" in patients with autism, and the studies I've read have shown it to be bunk. If you watch the video, the assistant is typing when the guy has his eyes closed. That be some skillz, baby! So she just instinctively knows what he wants to type?
Not to mention, he types awfully fast for a paralyzed guy. Oh wait... the aide feels his slight movement toward the letters. I forgot.
Old 11-25-09, 05:54 PM
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Re: Man thought to be in coma for 23 years conscious whole time

Originally Posted by Living Dead View Post
Not to mention, he types awfully fast for a paralyzed guy. Oh wait... the aide feels his slight movement toward the letters. I forgot.
Especially for a guy with his head pointed away from the keyboard-- and his eyes closed. (See my links above.)
Old 11-25-09, 05:57 PM
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Re: Man thought to be in coma for 23 years conscious whole time

I thought this thread would be about John Kerry
Old 11-25-09, 07:00 PM
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Re: Man thought to be in coma for 23 years conscious whole time

When I watched that video I was very skeptical of the assistant typing for him. I didn't realize it was such a controversial communication method. It's interesting to read about, and it's hard for me to believe that guy is typing.
Old 11-26-09, 12:01 AM
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Re: Man thought to be in coma for 23 years conscious whole time

Originally Posted by NORML54601 View Post
I'm putting this on the list of shit I hope never happens to me.
God yes. That's a fate worse than any quick death.
Old 02-20-10, 09:58 AM
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Re: Man thought to be in coma for 23 years conscious whole time

Vegetable Ouija pwnd!

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...ryId=123813455

Story Of Book-Writing Coma Patient Debunked

by Jon Hamilton

Several months ago, a man in Belgium named Rom Houben was said to be writing a book more than 20 years after doctors concluded that a car crash had left him in a vegetative state.

Houben had gained international fame for supposedly revealing his innermost thoughts through a technique called facilitated communication.

Now, it looks like those initial reports were wrong.

Houben's neurologist, Dr. Steven Laureys, says a scientific test has shown that his patient cannot answer even simple questions.

Facilitated Communication May Have Skewed Early Tests

Facilitated communication occurs when a so-called facilitator supports the hand or arm of an impaired person, and helps them use a keyboard or other device. Lots of studies have found that the technique is unreliable. One way or another, the facilitator is communicating, not the impaired person.

In November 2009, Laureys sounded like a believer when he spoke with All Things Considered host Melissa Block. Describing the first time he tested his patient's ability to communicate through a facilitator, he said: "The first word he communicated to me was the word 'key' — my car keys that I just showed him."

Laureys, who leads the Coma Science Group at the University of Liege, now says he was uncomfortable with some of what he said in the interview.

Since then, he has tested Houben and some other patients more rigorously.

Houben Failed A More Scientific Test

A few days ago, Laureys and his research team presented the results of those tests at a scientific meeting in the United Kingdom.

Laureys says they showed the patients an object, or spoke a word. Unlike earlier interactions with Laureys, the facilitator was out of the room for that part of the test. Afterward, the facilitator was brought back in to help the patient answer questions.

"We presented three cases after traumatic brain injury. Two failed the test. And that was including Rom," says Laureys.

In the test, the man who was supposed to be writing a novel failed to identify an apple through facilitated communication.

Laureys says it's possible that Houben passed the earlier test with car keys, which took place years ago, because his facilitator had been in the room and saw the object. Laureys says he tried repeatedly to confirm the result with Houben's original facilitator. But the results were always inconclusive.

"If you have answers like, 'I don't want to do the test' or 'You don't trust me,' those kinds of answers, well then, you cannot say anything," Laureys says.

The recent tests were done with a different facilitator, who was prepared to take part in the more rigorous experiment.

Misdiagnosis Is Possible, But Miraculous Recoveries Are Very Rare

Dr. Steven Novella, a neurologist at Yale University, says he's not surprised by any of this. "Steven Laureys is a legitimate researcher and neurologist," he says. "I think he just wasn't familiar with facilitated communication, and that bit him in the behind."

Novella says Laureys was trying to make an important point: that many patients are misdiagnosed as being vegetative. But he says miraculous recoveries are extremely rare.

"This is the story that always gets told on dramas. That some person is in a coma, and they wake from their coma," Novella says. "But it's a very distorted view of reality, and unfortunately the Rom Houben case played right into that."

Novella says Houben may well be conscious. But there's no evidence he's able to write a book.
Old 02-20-10, 10:24 AM
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Re: Man thought to be in coma for 23 years conscious whole time

However the guy who has been in a coma/vegetative state for years and is conscious who can communicate via a brain scan is accurate. Really wild stuff.

I liked the 'Law & Order' episode on that 'assisted typing' crap. They owned that stupid mother who thought her retard son was communicating with her.

Old 02-21-10, 03:41 AM
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Re: Man thought to be in coma for 23 years conscious whole time

Sometimes it's real, like Jean-Dominique Bauby's "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly".
Old 02-21-10, 07:15 AM
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Re: Man thought to be in coma for 23 years conscious whole time

Originally Posted by Living Dead View Post
Not to mention, he types awfully fast for a paralyzed guy. Oh wait... the aide feels his slight movement toward the letters. I forgot.
Amazing communication with the dead via Ouija Board is next.

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