Politics 1, Medical Science 0

One of my favorite local bloggers, Attaboy, shares the sentiments of people who believe there's a possibility that Terri Schiavo is aware of her surroundings.

This isn't a situation where medical experts disagree: There's no realistic hope of recovery from brain damage as severe as Schiavo's, as a recent Newsday article makes clear:

Dr. Dana Lustbader, director of palliative care at North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, said, "In this case, there is basically no hope of recovery."

Patients have awoken from comas with little or no lasting effects, but Lustbader said patients in Schiavo's condition, with normal wake-sleep cycles, are neither comatose nor brain dead. While awake, they cannot track objects or faces with their eyes. "The eyes are roving randomly, and they happen to follow, at times, people moving in the room," she said.

A behavioral researcher in neuroscience, posting on the ALAS weblog, writes that the the damage is so irreversibly severe that there's nothing left to make thought and reasoning possible:

There is no way any qualified brain doctor or scientist could look at this image and suggest that significant recovery of function is possible. The fact that we could have all this discussion on the subject is a triumph of politics over science. Tragic for Terri Schiavo, and really for us all.


Damn your logic, man, can't you see we're trying to feel our way through this? You always did have a nice way of letting people know how wrong they are. And nice hair, too, although I kind of preferred the late '80s version.

I was perfectly happy basing what little opinion I had on the husband's apparent ickyness, and now I have to think and stuff. It burns ...

You wrote: "This isn't a situation where medical experts disagree..."

Well there are scientists that disagree and one of the has been nominated for a Nobel Prize.

My hair has gone downhill since that mug shot, Mike. I'm getting some widow's peak action going on up there now, and I'm starting to plan combover strategies.

Dr. Hammesfahr's claims have been examined by the Florida courts, and they were disregarded, apparently for lack of supporting research.

The doctor misleadingly represents himself as a Nobel Prize nominee. He isn't -- a congressman wrote a letter touting his work to the prize committee, but the congressman wasn't one of the 3,000 people qualified to nominate someone.

Additionally, the Florida Board of Medicine fined him in 2003, stating that his treatments for stroke patients were "not within the generally accepted standard of care." The same treatment he recommends for Schiavo.

Even with all of this, Hammesfahr was given a chance to convince the courts that Schiavo would respond to his treatments. He testified before Judge Greer on behalf of Schiavo's parents.

According to the preceding link, Greer described Hammesfahr as a self-promoter who offered no case studies or test results to support the claims he has made about Schiavo's prospects for recovery.

Rogers, I just visited the Media Matters website. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Although I have some disagreements with the parents, I will still side with them. They are upset because Michael Schiavo has lived with another woman for 10 years, fathered two children by her, and referred to her as his "fiancee." - source AP

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