Medical Xpress revealed that a Northwestern Medicine and Hines VA Hospital study shows the voices of loved ones telling the patient familiar stories stored in long-term memory can help awaken the unconscious brain and speed recovery from the coma.
Coma patients who heard familiar stories repeated by family members four times a day for six weeks, via recordings played over headphones, recovered consciousness significantly faster and had an improved recovery compared to patients who did not hear the stories, reports the study published in the journal Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair.
“We believe hearing those stories in parents’ and siblings’ voices exercises the circuits in the brain responsible for long-term memories,” said lead author Theresa Pape. “That stimulation helped trigger the first glimmer of awareness.” As a result, the coma patients can wake more easily, become more aware of their environment and start responding to conversations and directions.
Pape is a neuroscientist in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a neuroscientist at Hines VA.
Being more aware of their environment means the patients can actively participate in physical, speech and occupational therapy, all essential for their rehabilitation.
“Families feel helpless and out of control when a loved one is in a coma,” Pape said. “It’s a terrible feeling for them. This gives them a sense of control over the patient’s recovery and the chance to be part of the treatment.”
Medical Xpress for committing its resources to writing the article I referenced; Theresa Pape for leading the team that conducted the research; the journal Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair for publishing the study; Google for helping me find the article; and all the other people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to use the picture and text I included in this post.