Doctors Zap Patient Out of 15Year Coma

first_imgStay on target Ever since Frankenstein we’ve fantasized about bringing dead things back to life by just blasting them with electricity. Personally, I never feel more alive than when I’m holding the electrified metal handles of that Uncle Fester arcade game.But when used safely, electricity does have legitimate medical benefits, with defibrillators being used to shock hearts back into their proper rhythm. Now, doctors may have refined another shockingly successful technique: using electricity to zap a patient out of a coma.Okay, so they didn’t hurl a bolt of lightning and turn a corpse into Aaron Eckhart. But set aside your cartoon vision of electric resurrection and you’ll see the reality is still pretty dramatic. Following a car accident 15 years ago, a 35-year-old French man suffered heavy brain damage that left him in a vegetative state. After years of failed tests, Angela Sirigu and her team at the French National Center in Bron tried something a little different to hopefully restore the man’s consciousness.Current research suggested that stimulating the man’s vagus nerve and the various aspects of the nervous system it controls could provide promising results. So in a careful, months-long ongoing procedure, the team placed electrodes and implants throughout the man’s head, alternated between stimulation and rest, adjusted the voltage, and recorded the results.If you were hoping the team just gave him a shock and he popped up good as news, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed. The sheer amount of damage the man sustained means he’ll likely never walk or talk again. However, the results were still positive. The man was eventually alert enough to turn his head, look around the room, and nearly smile when asked. Definitely an improvement. No word on whether he wiggled his big toe.The team now wants to study why this vagus nerve technique has been successful and figure out how it might help other coma patients recover. Maybe doctors of the future will be able to pull souls out of Hell itself with their electrified fingertips.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Researchers Uncover Most Powerful Electric Eel EverThermal Battery Could Power Solar Systems Overnight last_img

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