A major challenge facing both physicians and the general public is to change our attitudes toward individuals with severe brain damage who cannot communicate.
We should not assume that they do not have any awareness of what is going on. As suggested by the British Medical Journal authors, we need to learn how to communicate with very disabled patients. One of the major scientific challenges of this century is to understand how the brain thinks.
When this is achieved, we may be able to measure "conscious" brain activity and start to build bridges to patients who cannot communicate.
Patrick Pullicino, MD, Ph.D., is Professor of Neurology and chairman of the Department of Neurosciences of the New Jersey Medical School at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, USA.
Many articles taken from 'A word with the doctor', by Dr. John Windsor.