Wednesday, July 1, 2009
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
BBC NEWS By David Reid
Patients who are conscious but almost entirely paralysed could be aided by French research that reads their brain activity to help them communicate.
The condition known as locked-in syndrome has many causes but in most cases it leaves its victims fully conscious but unable to move or speak.
French journalist Jean-Dominique Bauby suffered "locked-in syndrome" when he woke up from a coma caused by a massive stroke to find his mental faculties intact, but body inert.
Despite this he managed to write a memoir entitled The Diving Bell and the Butterfly to give the world a rare glimpse into the internal lives of the locked-in.
The stroke left Mr Bauby able only to blink his left eye and he used this to communicate with an assistant who read out the letters of the alphabet to him.
Scientists at France's Institute for Health and Medical Research (Inserm) have come up with a system called OpenVibe to help sufferers of locked in syndrome and to develop understanding of the human brain.