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While disturbing to family members and health care professionals, spontaneous movement in patients diagnosed with brain death may be more common than previously realized.
In the January 11 issue of Neurology, researchers from Argentina and Spain reported on movement in patients who showed no brain activity on electroencephalogram tests. The Argentinean study included 38 patients diagnosed with brain death during an 18-month period. Fifteen, or 39%, had motor movements such as bending of toes or jerking of fingers. In all cases, movement occurred in the first 24 hours after the diagnosis; no movements were seen after 72 hours.
Voelker R. Movement After Brain Death. JAMA. 2000;283(6):734. doi:10.1001/jama.283.6.734-JWM00000-2-1