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May 1986

Persistent Vegetative State and Behavioral Deficit

Author Affiliations

Rehabilitation Medicine Service San Francisco General Hospital San Francisco, CA 94110
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Santa Clara Valley Medical Center San Jose, CA 95128

Arch Neurol. 1986;43(5):431. doi:10.1001/archneur.1986.00520050011006

To the Editor.  —In 1972, Jennett and Plum1 described patients who "never regain recognizable mental function, but recover from sleep-like coma... have periods of wakefulness when their eyes open and move; their responsiveness is limited to primitive postural and reflex movements of the limbs and they never speak." They chose to name this syndrome the persistent vegetative state (PVS), and in the subsequent 13 years this designation has gained wide acceptance.Levy et al2 in 1978 looked at patients who met Jennett and Plum's1 criteria for PVS following nontraumatic coma, and chose to include only those who met all of the original criteria. Both articles excluded patients with severe dementia, and no patient who retained the ability to ambulate was in either group.In the November 1985 issue of the Archives, Walshe and Leonard3 described patients with progressive neurologic disease who in their final years appeared to

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