There’s a man in France who had been lying in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years following a car accident. After 1 year, such a state is considered to be permanent and irreversible, which is what makes the fact that he recently showed significant improvement unusual and more than a little bit impressive.
The researchers involved achieved the change after implanting a device in the patient’s chest to stimulate his vagus nerve, which is significant to a person’s wakefulness and attention, among other things.
Let’s break this down:
What is the vagus nerve?
The vagus nerve runs from the base of the skull all the way to the abdomen, essentially connecting the brain to the rest of the body. This allows the brain to receive information from the body and is responsible for the autonomic nervous system, sensory activities, and motor information for movement.
In short, it’s an integral part of the circuit that links all of your essential organs to your brainstem.
What is a vegetative state?
Unlike a coma, from which it is possible to recover and regain full awareness, a vegetative state means the patient is totally unaware of their surroundings and unable to respond to stimulation or to communicate in any way. Though a person in a vegetative state may open their eyes…
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