Some People Who Appear to Be in a Coma May Actually Be Conscious

(Scientific American) – A medical team surrounded Maria Mazurkevich’s hospital bed, all eyes on her as she did … nothing. Mazurkevich was 30 years old and had been admitted to New York–Presbyterian Hospital at Columbia University on a blisteringly hot July day in New York City.

A few days earlier, at home, she had suddenly fallen unconscious. She had suffered a ruptured blood vessel in her brain, and the bleeding area was putting tremendous pressure on critical brain regions. The team of nurses and physicians at the hospital’s neurological intensive care unit was looking for any sign that Mazurkevich could hear them.

She was on a mechanical ventilator to help her breathe, and her vital signs were stable. But she showed no signs of consciousness. CONTINUE