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View Full Version : Comatose man's brain rewired itself



Raven
07-03-2006, 09:30 PM
Doctors have their first proof that a man who was barely conscious for nearly 20 years regained speech and movement because his brain spontaneously rewired itself by growing tiny new nerve connections to replace the ones sheared apart in a car crash.

Terry Wallis, 42, is one of the few people known to have recovered so dramatically so long after a serious brain injury. He still needs help eating and cannot walk, but his speech continues to improve and he can count to 25 without interruption.

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The research on Wallis, published Monday in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, was led by imaging expert Henning Voss and neurologist Dr. Nicholas Schiff at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City and included doctors at JFK Medical Center in Edison, N.J.

<snip>

Wallis was 19 when he suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him briefly in a coma and then in a minimally conscious state, in which he was awake but uncommunicative other than occasional nods and grunts, for more than 19 years.

"The nerve fibers from the cells were severed, but the cells themselves remained intact," unlike Schiavo, whose brain cells had died, said Dr. James Bernat, a neurologist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire, who is familiar with the research.

Nerve cells that have not died can form new connections; for example, nerves in the arms and legs can grow about an inch a month after they are severed or damaged. However, this happens far less often in the brain.

The new research suggests that instead of the sudden recovery Wallis seemed to make when he began speaking and moving three years ago, he actually may have been slowly recovering all along, as nerves in his brain formed new connections at a glacial pace until enough were present to make a network

Researchers used a new type of brain imaging only available in research settings — not ordinary hospitals or rehabilitation centers — to establish the regrowth. It tracks the direction of water molecules in and around brain cells, an indicator of brain activity.

"It's a roadmap of how the connections are running," Schiff said.

Doctors compared Wallis' brain function to that of 20 healthy people and another minimally conscious patient who showed virtually no recovery for six years. All were imaged twice, 18 months apart.

More .. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060703/ap_on_he_me/brain_recovery;_ylt=AsuJexYft5NJ_1z8Jf1XmQVg.3QA;_ ylu=X3oDMTA3b2NibDltBHNlYwM3MTY-

Incredible!

Raven

gregorious
07-03-2006, 09:58 PM
The brain still has many secrets and abilties still to be discovered. Without going into too much detail I have a TBI and after 13 years after my head injury still have the odd day every now and then when a functional ability returns for a day or two.

Buck503
07-03-2006, 10:51 PM
Is this the same guy who was on TLC? The story was called
"The man who slept for 19 years". He had a daughter to. If it's
him, then that is amazing. In the story, they said that the reason
he "woke up" was because his mother had talked to him through
those 19 years of being in a coma.

lynnifer
07-04-2006, 03:31 PM
And he very often tells us how glad he is to be alive.

Truly remarkable. I'm not sure if it's the same story Buck - the article states that Wallis can't remember one day of those twenty years. He still though Reagan was President and that he was still nineteen.

Just out of curiousity gregorious, can you elaborate?

gregorious
07-04-2006, 04:34 PM
Just out of curiousity gregorious, can you elaborate?
Sure, usually when I try and take a step I go down like a rock, but every now and then (about twice a year) I can walk for about 200 metres, sit, rest and walk back. The effect lasts a few days then fades away again. According to the neourolgist my condition should be constant and this should not happen. I do treadmill, recumbent bike and weight train three times a week with the hope someday, the infrequent episodes may become constant, if my melon can just get with the program.

Raven
07-04-2006, 08:08 PM
Is this the same guy who was on TLC? The story was called
"The man who slept for 19 years". He had a daughter to. If it's
him, then that is amazing. In the story, they said that the reason
he "woke up" was because his mother had talked to him through
those 19 years of being in a coma.

Buck, this man apparently was in a car accident at the age of 19. I don't think it is the one you mentioned. May be wrong but I think it is some other person. I will do a search because I think I know who you are speaking of and will post it here for you.

This is amazing though, to think that the brain can, in a manner of speaking, heal itself to some point.


Raven