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Patient believed to be in persistent vegetative state is able to communicate

A 39 year old man who was believed to be in a persistent vegetative state for more than 10 years has been able to tell scientists he is not in pain.  Scott Routley was injured in a car crash ten years ago. Since then, all physical assessments suggested he was in a “minimally conscious state” with no awareness of himself or the outside world. The BBC Panorama programme followed the work of British neuroscientist, Professor Adrian Owen, as he carried out a series of MRI scans on Mr Routley’s brain while asking him questions which only he could answer. The pattern of brain activity revealed he was choosing to answer the questions. Professor Owen says this suggests Mr Routley was aware of who and where he was.