Brain Scans May Help Predict Coma Recovery, New Study Suggests

First Posted: Nov 16, 2015 10:52 PM EST

Brains scans may help predict recovery from a coma, according to a recent study.

Researchers collected data on about 40 people--27 of whom were in a coma with severe brain injuries, and they compared them to 14 healthy people of the same age.

All individuals in the study underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans of their brains. Three months following their injuries, four of the people in the coma had recovered consciousness while others remained in a minimally conscious or even vegetative state at three months.

The study authors found significant disruptions in connections between the posterior cingulate cortex and brain areas and the changes were the same regardless of lack of oxygen or trauma.

However, the researchers found that "the coordination of activity between the posterior cingulate cortex and the medial prefrontal cortex was significantly different between those who went on to recover from the coma and those who remained in a minimally conscious state or a vegetative state. The coordination between the two brain areas was the same for the healthy participants and those who regained consciousness," according to a news release.

But more research will be needed before the study results can be used to make any decisions regarding those in comas.

The study is published in the journal Neurology.

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