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Reboot Coma Patients' Brains

Use Electro-Magnetic Pulses (TMS, not ECT) to Try to Wake Them Up
  (+4, -1)
(+4, -1)
  [vote for,

Some of you have heard of doctors' using electro-magnetic pulses to treat persons with depression, right? Basically, the pulses keep electrons from moving in the part of the brain they're held over, so that when the device is stopped, the patient's brain has more or less been 'rebooted' (without erasing memory, of course; otherwise they couldn't do it), so they feel much better than before (this may be due to the halted production, and dissipation, of depression-causing chemicals in the brain).

My thinking is to adapt this to coma patients: give their brain a restart, and maybe they'll wake up.

We'll never know whether it works unless someone actually does it.

For clarity, this is >NOT< shock treatment.

galukalock, Feb 22 2003

Pulsed Magnetic Field Conditioning http://www.moosepag...s/faq.html#Section2
...is associated with magnetized water, which tells you everything you need to know. [DrCurry, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Static electromagnetic fields and human health http://www.mcw.edu/...cancer-FAQ/toc.html
Static magnetic fields seem to have little ill effect on human health. [pottedstu, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

[PurpleBob] said something here on Oct 19 2001 http://www.halfbake.../idea/Degauss_20gun
[PeterSealy] said something first, but now we'll never know what. [angel, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Cognitive Event-Related Potentials in Comatose and Post-Comatose States http://www.ncbi.nlm...nel.Pubmed_RVDocSum
east clubbers techno trance [beanangel, Jan 16 2008, last modified Jan 22 2008]

Man 'roused from coma' by a magnetic field http://www.newscien...icle/mg20026783.400
Baked??? [galukalock, Oct 15 2008]


       "We'll never know whether it works unless someone actually does it." - well, can we test it on you?
DrCurry, Feb 22 2003

       Google "transcranial magnetic stimulation".
galukalock, Feb 22 2003

       You can test it on me.
bristolz, Feb 22 2003

       You're in a coma?
DrCurry, Feb 22 2003

       Since this is not shock treatment, I have deleted [DrCurry]'s link regarding it, as it is way off-topic.
galukalock, Feb 22 2003

       shock - deleting DrC's links - shock
po, Feb 22 2003

       It does, with varying degrees of success, of course. The question is what effect it will have on coma patients. As far as I can tell, nobody's tried it on a single one.
galukalock, Feb 22 2003

       I have got to believe this has been tried. As long as electroshock therapy has been around, someone _has_ to have had this idea before.
waugsqueke, Feb 22 2003

       My comment, until galuka pointed out s/he wasn't talking about ECT, but PMFC. However, my first link stated that ECT leads to coma, so you would be putting out the fire with gasoline.
DrCurry, Feb 22 2003

       I haven't heard the term PMFC, but I have heard TMS (trans-cranial magnetic stimulation). Probably the same thing, but TMS is specifically for the brain.
galukalock, Feb 22 2003

       There isn't a little button round the back that you prod with a bent paperclip, then ?   

       Coma can arise from a number of different causes; surely we need to understand the specifics of the cause before a treatment is applied ?
8th of 7, Feb 24 2003

       Aha! but what about a comatose kitty?
Zircon, Feb 24 2003

       I agree that not all comas need the same treatment. However, if the patient doesn't wake up even *after* being physiologically stabilized, it's probably safe to assume there's a problem in the brain.   

       For purposes of being reasonable, I believe this treatment would be for patients who have been comatose for a while, and no one figures they're going to wake up themselves.   

       The treatment is, as far as everyone knows, not permanent, non-invasive, and completely painless. I say, as long as they've no hope of waking up anytime soon, you might as well *try* it at least.
galukalock, Feb 24 2003

       [bliss], I will say it again: this is <*NOT*> ECT, shock treatment, electroshock treatment, or ANYTHING that involves passing electric current through the body.
galukalock, Feb 27 2003

       TMS may be young, but it is still non-invasive, non-permanent, and non-damaging. Just because it hasn't been tried doesn't mean it won't work.   

       Even if it wasn't very effective, if it woke only one person up, it would be better than letting them vegetate forever, wouldn't it? It's something to *try*.
galukalock, Feb 28 2003

       If it only woke one person up, it would be more economically efficient to hire Britney Spears to sing at the coma patients' bedside. Hearing celebrities voices has also been effective at rousing people from comas.   

       There don't seem to be health risks associated with magnetic fields, although they can affect chemical reactions in the body (see link: the National Radiation Protection Board says "there is no direct experimental evidence of any acute, adverse effect on human health due to short-term exposure to static magnetic fields up to about 2 T [2000 milliTeslas]... Effects on behavior or cardiac function from exposure to much higher magnetic flux densities than 2 T [2000 milliTeslas] cannot be ruled out... "). However that does not mean this therapy is guaranteed to be "non-permanent and non-damaging".   

       I am sure this idea is meant well, but brains are not electrical devices: they have a complex bio-chemistry which is not going to be meaningfully affected by magnetic pulses.
pottedstu, Feb 28 2003

       // Britney Spears to sing at the coma patients' bedside //   

       That isn't "treatment", it's "cruel and unusual punishment".
8th of 7, Feb 28 2003

       // Britney Spears to sing at the coma patients' bedside //   

       This may not wake up my brain, but it would wake up another part of my anatomy...
Mayfly, Feb 28 2003

       I mis-read this as Robot Coma Patients Brains. I envisioned a whole army of comatose robot slaves.
oneoffdave, Feb 28 2003

       [pottedstu], I believe you meant that brains are not *only* electrical devices.
galukalock, Feb 28 2003

       Once I decided to write a book. Not a good book, it turned out, ‘cause everything I tried to write was…. well, something. The only juicy stuff came out of my deep subconscious. Trouble was, I couldn’t tap the juice whenever I wanted to. I had to be jogging, or doing some other skill thing. And I don’t have many skills, sadly. So, except for running around the block <exhausted>, I was in deep writer’s block. The whole book thing languished until I had the idea of using some of these newfangled transcranial magnetic stimulators -- wiring ‘em into a mortarboard I found in the closet to make a “thinking cap”. Now, if you set in on your head just right you can stimulate the cerebellum -- that’s the bumpy thing on the back of your brain that you use to run and stuff. Well, heavens! Here I sit with my thinking cap on, my feet twitching and squirming to beat all, and I’ve got all these ideas! So, back to my book -- let’s see now...page 2.
pluterday, Jun 03 2003

       I dunno about that. What I've heard about TMS is that its powerful magnetic fields paralyze electrons, preventing electrical activity from taking place in whatever part of the brain it's held over, and that without touching or harming the cells themselves. The reason it might work on coma patients is that, perhaps, their brains aren't functioning normally and are stuck in an infinite loop. Stop activity in the part that's stuck for a while, then maybe it'll restart correctly when you let off.   

       This could still be done for you, though it'd hafta be done differently (and away from the computer). Just get an MRI (or just ask someone) to find what part of yer brain comes up with the writing ideas. Then 'paralyze' the other part of yer brain. The creative part will then become more active, sensing the suppression of the other part, and you'll get more ideas. This type of thing was done to regular people in a clinical trial.   

       Their 'creative-artistic' side was disabled temporarily in this manner, and their 'analytical' side became dominant. They became clairvoyant (human calculators) for the duration of the session. They did about 10 of these sessions. About one-fifth became permanently clairvoyant, presumably because their 'analytical' side had learned how to make itself manifest at any time.
galukalock, Jun 03 2003

       // paralyze electrons… became clairvoyant//

Pluterday, turned into a deep thinking clairvoyant human calculator, her electrons completely frozen by too much magnetic stimulation, managed to say this: “forty two”. <That’s the right answer all right, but she may have cheated.>
pluterday, Jun 03 2003

       coma-survivors, cognitive potentials are more frequently obtained when using stimuli that are more ecologic or have an emotional content (such as the patient's own name) than when using classical sine tones.   

       this strongly suggests that zapping a memory center like the hippocampus along with a pleasure center would make a potential coma treatment; rather than a reboot a bunch of happy memories might wake them up   

       plus it seems kind to stimulate the pleasure centers of the eeg active comatose
beanangel, Jan 16 2008

       For the record, I've never heard of electromagnetic pulses working very well to treat depression. ECT *is* used for intractable depression, and it is not particularly unpleasant, though it's not what you'd try first.   

       Whether ECT or non-contact ECT would work for coma patients, I have no idea. I would be very surprised, though, if it hasn't been tried.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 16 2008

       ECT is not tried first because of that cuckoo movie, and bad press encouraged by the pill people. It is another example of a nonpharmacologic treatment superseded by a pharmacologic treatment because of the love of things pill.
bungston, Jan 16 2008

       Precisely so. To be fair, though, in an unbiased choice, 9 out 10 customers preferred the pills.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 16 2008

       i wonder if *rebooting* would rectify some forms of autism.
pyggy potamus, Jan 17 2008

       Highly unlikely.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 17 2008

       See above:   

       /You can test it on me.
- bristolz, Feb 22 2003 /

david_scothern, Jan 17 2008

       Well that was poignant. My heart skipped a beat when i read that.
nineteenthly, Jan 18 2008

       Is it still poignant if one is from South Dakota and pronounces it with a hard G?
bungston, Jan 18 2008

       This has been tried. Almost everything has been tried. The issue is not a matter of needing a reboot, but to extend the metaphor, the fact that the boot sector is missing or garbled without a method for restoring the basic "software" for consciousness the brain will simply remain basically inert. Treatment for most comatose patients fails because we simply do not understand exactly what is missing. (like trying to start a car that has no distributor, no amount of cranking or starting fluid is going to make it run.)
WcW, Oct 16 2008


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