Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Monday, August 19, 2013

Experimental Tool Measures Brain Consciousness

BrainThere is an experimental tool that doctors could eventually use to more accurately determine the chances of recovering from a serious brain injury. The tool is designed to look at a patient’s brain and identify signs of consciousness. This tool could potentially help families make the end- of- life decisions.

Researchers from Italy’s University of Milan developed the tool. The tool uses a combination of magnetic pulses, brain wave activity, and a formula to gauge consciousness. The tool is still being developed and is a long way from being used in hospitals, but the research has opened the door to helping document consciousness and its relationship to recovery. 

Currently, doctors just look for signs externally or use an MRI machine to scan the brain and think of something. If it seems as though there is brain activity but that the person cannot verbalize any responses the person has what doctors call "Locked in Syndrome." The problem with this method is that people in vegetative states may still have significant amounts of brain activity. 

See David DiSalvo, Tool That Looks For Consciousness In The Brian Could Change End-Of-Life Decisions, Forbes, Aug. 17, 2013. 


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