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New Evidence That Coma Patients Feel Pain

Their is increasing research which shows that individuals in a comatose state who were previously thought to be incapable of feeling pain, are in fact aware of pain and require pain medication.

Coma is a poor term to describe the various states of unconsciousness.  Better terms have been developed which classify patients in three stages, Coma, Vegetative State and the Minimally Conscious State.  However, it is important to know that their are frequent errors made in the diagnosis of a patient's particular stage of consciousness and studies have shown that upwards of 41 percent of patients diagnosed as being in a vegetative state are actually in a minimally conscious state.

A new study evaluating brain scans of patients in various stages of coma has found that many of these individuals in both the vegetative state and the minimally conscious state are able to perceive and react to pain. This study is strong evidence that these individuals previously thought to be "brain dead" are capable of awareness and require pain medication.

The full study is in the October issue of the Lancet Neurology journal. 



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