Paralysed Belgian misdiagnosed as in coma for 23 years

This is quite frightening and confirms something I have long believed... basically that the brain is more subtle and complex than what even the most up-to-date science can say about it. How many people in this situation have had life support turned off?


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TV grab of Rom Houben, who was misdiagnosed as being in a coma
Rom Houben now uses a special keyboard to communicate
A Belgian man who doctors thought was in a coma for 23 years was conscious all along, it has been revealed.
Medical staff believed Rom Houben had sunk irretrievably into a coma after he was injured in a car crash in 1983.
A doctor at Belgium's University of Liege who discovered that Mr Houben had been misdiagnosed said his case was not an isolated one.
"I was shouting, but no-one could hear me," Mr Houben, now 46, was quoted as saying by a German magazine.
According to Der Spiegel, Mr Houben, who can now communicate by using a special keyboard, has described how his body did not respond when he woke up after the accident.
'Second birth'
He has also said that he felt powerless as doctors and nurses tried to speak to him before giving up hope, and that he "dreamt the time away" as the years passed.
It was only in 2006 that a scan revealed that though Mr Houben was paralysed, his brain was in fact almost entirely functioning.
"I will never forget the day they discovered me," Mr Houben was quoted as saying. "It was like a second birth."
Mr Houben's story was revealed in a paper written by Steven Laureys, a doctor at Liege University who wrote a recent paper that detailed the case.
In it, Mr Laureys said that in about 40% of cases in which people are classified as being in a vegetative state, closer inspection reveals signs of consciousness.
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