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One third of patients in ‘vegetative’ states show signs of consciousness


As many as one third of patients who receive a persistent vegetative state diagnosis might still be conscious, reports Macleans. These results, published today in The Lancet, carry many ethical and legal implications for how healthcare professionals and society at large regard patients who appear to have lost all consciouness. Steven Laureys, neuroscientist at the Université de Liège and lead author of the study, told Macleans that the consequences of this study are huge. His group found that 13 out of the 42 patients they screened showed signs of brain activity. When given the right care, some may reach higher levels of consciousness over time.

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