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June 2010

Halfway Technology for the Vegetative State

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, Torino, Italy.

Arch Neurol. 2010;67(6):777. doi:10.1001/archneurol.2010.102

Schiff and colleagues’1 reply to criticism that deep brain stimulation (DBS) for the minimally conscious state is a “halfway” solution, whereby “progress in digestion and mobility” may ethically clash with a heightened awareness of disability on the part of the patient, a likely liability.

We encountered the same criticism when we announced in December 2008 that, following bifocal extradural cortical stimulation in the setting of a proof-of-principle study (Project Lazarus), a patient in a permanent vegetative state (19 months) became minimally conscious, with improved digestion and mobility.2