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Brain Damaged Patients may Hear, React

Reported by Ellen - February 8, 2005

Today on Studio B with Shepard Smith, he got extremely excited to report on a study that shows that some brain damaged patients may have the capability to receive stimulation. Shepard was animated and the transcript is as follows:

Shepard Smith: In a possible wake up call about people suffering from brain damage and the best way to treat them. Experts say they have now found evidence that patients may hear and react to what is going on around them.

Sheppard Smith then introduces Dr. Joy Hirsch, PhD, from Columbia Medical Center, the Studies' senior author.

SS: Basically what you're now saying is that people who you thought were unaware are actually aware of everything. (comment, nope, Shepard, let the doctor explain)

Dr. Hirsch: Well, recent brain imaging studies are able to show that these patients that are non responsive, have the capability, at least, the neurol system available to them to receive stimulation. Now, we don't know what exactly that tells us in terms of how aware they are. But it does tell us that they have cognitive systems, or brain systems, that are capable of responding to stimuli on the outside.

SS: Well, that's a departure from what we've been hearing for decades and decades, isn't it?

Dr. Hirsch: Well, yes, it is. It's a major step forward because it tells us that there is an objective measurement of the patients status, the patients ability to potentially recover from the minimally conscious state.

SS: Wow. The legal and ethical ramifications here are just bouncing off the walls all of a sudden. Just to think that it's possible that people that have been lying on a bed for all these years, thinking they know and see and hear nothing and that you were wrong.

Dr. Hirsch: Well, these.....

SS: I now we're not there yet, but it's on the table.

Dr. Hirsch: That's right, we're not there yet. But these patients have been essentially neglected for a long period of time because we haven't been able to devote a lot of research to therapeutics to help these people to recover from the state of being unresponsive. And now this provides an objective method that may allow us to monitor our progress and hopefully encourage research to rehabilitate some of these people.

SS: I found it interesting the way you got to this. And one specific example was this particular patient whose family was discussing some things that had happened back in the day, when everything was good. And there was brain activity that was noticed on a chart. I guess that was sort of an overwhelming discovery there, huh?

Dr. Hirsch: Well, in a brain imaging study, we're able to actually not just look at the structure of the brain but we can actually look at how the brain is acting so that we can see the parts of the brain that are managing these stimulations (last few words talked over by Smith).

SS: Wow, you guys are smart. I'll bet you even understand annulments (reference to earlier segment on Catholics and annulments).

Dr. Hirsch: Oh, dear, that's another subject....

SS: That's too much. They're mad at me, they think I hate them -- I don't. It just doesn't make any sense. I know there's an explanation but it doesn't make any sense. This is killer. This is absolutely great information. I guess now, if nothing else, you're gonna be able to track going forward whether you're doing the right things or wrong things to get people in the right place.

Dr. Hirsch: Well, this is the goal, that we can use this information to guide research on therapeutics for these patients. And so, it's like giving the patients a voice that they haven't had before.

SS (interupting): Wow.

Dr. Hirsch: Because it allows us to monitor their responsiveness, perhaps their awareness, and guide our therapeutic interventions and possibilities for treatment ahead for us. That's a long ways ahead, we're not there yet. But, at least it's a step in the right direction.

SS: At least there's that.

Comment: Aside from Shepard Smith's Paris Hilton's moments, Wow's and Killer, I half expected him to say, 'That is hot!', this could have just been a report on a new study that's out. But, let's keep it in mind as the days go by that Fox has not mentioned the Terry Shiavo case since the Supreme Court refused to hear it and that the Shiavo case goes back to the appelate court where it was ruled that her husband can remove her feeding tube. Jeb Bush had the legislature in Florida pass a law, called Terry's Law that kept her feeding tube in. O'Reilly and others have spoken out about the Shiavo case in the past and this may be preparation for the time that her husband actually goes to remove the feeding tube.

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