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Researchers may have new method to test consciousness

Kentucky families who have loved ones who suffered from a brain injury may be interested to learn that according to a report, scientists have found that they may be able to measure a person's brain response using a magnetic pulse, which may indicate to them to determine the awareness of someone who has suffered a closed head injury or other traumatic brain injury. Determining the consciousness of a person who has suffered severe brain trauma in an accident is often challenging due to the inability of people to respond.

While there are other methods that have been used to assess consciousness, the lead researcher stated that these methods often are not adequate, as the brain can produce patterns that make it appear that the individual is conscious even when they are not, or vise versa. With this method, the researchers created what they called the perturbational complexity index. A magnetic coil was attached to the skull and a pulse was generated, sparking a response in the brain's neurons.

The brain's response was recorded on an EEG, and the information was given a score of between 0 and 1. The higher the score, the more conscious the individual was thought to be. The method was tested on healthy individuals before using it on injured patients. It is hoped that this method could be used as a way to make treatment more effective.

While brain injuries are of the result of catastrophic accidents, they can also happen as a result of medical malpractice or hospital negligence. Surviving family members of those who suffered traumatic brain injury may be eligible to seek compensation for lost wages, medical expenses and even long-care health needs. An experienced Kentucky attorney may be able to assist the family with their medical malpractice litigation.

Source: Medical News Today, "Brain injuries: measuring consciousness by 'perturbing the brain'", Marie Ellis, August 16, 2013

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