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Sleeping pill 'revives vegetative patients'


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Sleeping pill 'revives vegetative patients'



A SLEEPING pill can temporarily revive people in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) to the point where they can have conversations, scientists have reported.


South African researchers, writing in the journal NeuroRehabilitation, looked at the effects on three patients of using the drug Zolpidem for up to six years. Each of the three patients studied was given the drug every morning. An improvement was seen within 20 minutes but wore off after four hours.


The research has been met with a mixed response, with some scientists claiming the patients in the trial were not in a true vegetative state.


The researchers said one of the patients had been in a vegetative state for three years, showing no response to touch. After he was given Zolpidem, he was able to talk to his family, answering simple questions.


Dr Ralf Clauss, now in the nuclear medicine department at the Royal Surrey Hospital, was one of the researchers who carried out the study. He said: "For every damaged area of the brain, there is a dormant area. The damaged tissue is dead, there's nothing you can do. But it's the dormant areas which 'wake up'."


However, Mike Barnes, professor of neurological rehabilitation at the Hunters Moor centre in Newcastle, said it was possible the patients had not had "true" PVS. "A diagnosis of PVS means the patient should not wake up and respond."


This article: http://news.scotsman.com/health.cfm?id=769002006


Last updated: 24-May-06 02:37 BST

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