Woman in Coma Played Tennis in Her Head

And her ability to do so raised new questions about consciousness for doctors believing that a coma equated with lack of consciousness.

Reported Reuters in Coma case raises questions about consciousness (Sept 8, 2006): "The case of a woman in a vegetative state who appeared to play tennis in her head highlights one of the key frustrations of doctors who treat such patients -- trying to figure out what is going on in someone else's brain...

"British and Belgian researchers said functional magnetic resonance imaging or fMRI brain scans showed the 23-year-old woman appeared to respond to commands to imagine playing a game of tennis and walking through her home, although she remained immobile and outwardly unresponsive."

The inner life was thought to have stopped when the outer life appeared immobile, but that is actually not the case, scientists are beginning to discover.

"Experts overwhelmingly agreed that the case, reported in Friday's issue of the journal Science, does not mean that many people in apparently vegetative states may in fact be conscious," the article went on to say. One expert was quoted as saying: "the study showed it is possible to make a mistake in diagnosing a patient as unconscious."

Duh. Conscious and unconscious may not be for science to label, at least not yet. In Beyond Complementary Medicine, I wrote about use of ideomotor signals, tiny signals in the fingers, by which supposedly unconscious patients may communicate. Of course, energy medicine (not the best name) relies on subtle communication, on a somewhat different level than does hypnotherapy. There's much more to learn here about communication and consciousness.

One of the experts reports being "humbled" by the study.