Imagine being trapped in your own body. When you think of being trapped the first thing that may come to mind is being confined, now think about the only thing confining you is your brain. Your loved ones are all around you trying to talk to you; meanwhile, you lay there and cannot speak. You scream, shout, cry, smile, and even laugh occasionally but no one knows but you. Now imagine this has been going on for 23 years. Recently in Brussels, Belgium this nightmare is one man’s reality. Recently made public in newspapers and internet sites throughout the world is the story of Rom Houben, a 46 year old man, who was involved in a car accident 26 years ago. Up until 3 years ago this man was thought to be in a vegetative state, but thanks to new brain scanning technology they discovered that not only was Mr. Houben’s brain functioning properly but it was almost operating normally. Dr. Steven Laureys, a neurologist at the University of Liège in Belgium, has published a new study that states Mr. Houben could be one of many misdiagnosed coma cases in the world. Dr. Laurey’s study states that up to 40% of cases labeled vegatative state, upon closer examination are found to have at least some brain activity. With this new finding they have found that some cases with consciousness can be treated and they are making considerable progress.
This grim reality could happen to any one of us. A simple trip to the grocery store could put you or a loved one in a hospital bed, one that they may never get out of again. In the United States in 2008 per every 100,000 population, 12.25 people were killed (FARS DOT). While every year less and less people are dying on the roadways, there are still severe injury accidents that occur. Every day I count my blessings when I make it home safely, and I was not responsible for somebody’s pain and suffering.