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1/2. Emotional adjustment following cognitive recovery from 'persistent vegetative state': psychological and personal perspectives.

    Previously, the cognitive recovery of a 26 year old woman, Kate, who developed a severe encephalomyelopathy and was in a 'minimally conscious/persistent vegetative state' for 6 months was reported. After 6 months, Kate began to respond to her environment and, at 2 years post-illness, neuropsychological assessment indicated that Kate was functioning within the normal range on tests of general intellectual functioning, executive functioning and most memory functions (with the exception of visual recognition memory). Although Kate has a severe dysarthria necessitating the use of a communication board and severe physical disabilities that require her to use a wheelchair, she has demonstrated an almost complete cognitive recovery and is among a tiny percentage of minimally conscious patients to do so. This single case report describes the emotional factors central to Kate's rehabilitation. Using a newly developed model of cognitive rehabilitation as a framework, the pivotal role that emotional and psychological factors played in Kate's adjustment to the consequences of her illness and the role of psychotherapeutic intervention in facilitating this adjustment are discussed.
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keywords = communication
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2/2. Further recovery in a potential treatment withdrawal case 10 years after brain injury.

    A young woman was rendered tetraplegic and anarthric as a result of a traumatic brain injury in 1993. Two years later, she was considered to be in a minimally conscious state and became the subject of legal debate in the UK with regard to withdrawal of artificial feeding and hydration. Before injury, she made a verbal advanced directive that she would not wish to continue living if ever becoming severely disabled. Neuropsychological assessment found statistically significant evidence for sentience and expression of a wish to live and the application to Court was withdrawn. Further meaningful recovery occurred between 7-10 years after injury. She now lives in the community with 24 hour care. She speaks, initiates conversation and actions, expresses clear and consistent preferences and has a spontaneous sense of humour. She uses an electric wheelchair, eats solid food and drinks through a straw. Her mood is variable and sometimes low. This case demonstrates the need for careful consideration of advanced directives and for specialist neuropsychological assessment in people with severe cognitive and communication difficulties. It supports the view that routine assessment and follow-up of people thought to be in minimally conscious states is important. In addition, it shows that recovery with reduction in disability and significant implications for quality of life can continue for at least 10 years after extremely severe traumatic brain injury.
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keywords = communication
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