Deep Brain Stimulation
A brain-damaged man who could communicate only with slight eye or thumb movements for six years can speak again, after stimulating electrodes were placed in his brain, researchers report.
The 38-year-old also regained the ability to chew and swallow, which allows him to be spoon-fed, rather than relying on nourishment through a tube in his belly.
The man's brain was injured during an assault, he spent six years with only occasional signs of consciousness and no useful movement of his limbs. In an experiment, researchers implanted electrodes in his brain for a procedure called deep brain stimulation, which is routinely done for Parkinson's disease and some other illnesses.
The article goes on to explain that the man was in a minimally conscious state, as distinct from a permanent vegetative state (who show no signs of awareness of their surroundings whatever.) This method of treatment has proved ineffective for those in a persistent vegetative state, but may offer hope to many of the more than the estimated 100,000 patients currently in a minimally conscious state.