A family’s life was turned upside down in an instant when Vanja, a 43-year-old man, was admitted to the hospital. Only hours after his admission, hospital staff discovered him unconscious on the toilet floor. It was later revealed that a fig he had been eating had gotten stuck in his throat, cutting off oxygen to his brain and causing him to enter a coma.
The first 15 days of Vanja’s coma were filled with fear and uncertainty for his loved ones. Doctors told them that he would not survive, but after that they asked when they could take him home. Vera Gudac, Vanja’s mother, described her son as being like a piece of furniture.
Despite being given up on by institutions, Vanja responds best to music, videos, and audio messages. His biggest reward is a wink and a handshake. However, it is not clear if these methods will help him wake up from his coma.
According to Marina Raguž, a neurosurgeon at the Dubrava Clinical Hospital, messages can stimulate the brain and encourage patients to communicate. The family is always encouraged to talk to patients, play music and stimulate them in any way possible because it cannot be ruled out that this can stimulate the brain. However, there are several bizarre cases where children have choked on pills or suffocated by blowing balloons and woke up after experimental studies were carried out on them.
For someone to be considered for deep brain stimulation (DBS), they must meet neurophysiological, neuroradiological and clinical criteria. This includes testing whether there is a signal between the brain and periphery and whether the patient’s condition meets certain criteria before any radiological tests are performed. A patient who improved after being in a deep coma for a year was woken up through DBS treatment method. People like Vanja are on the margins of society and do not receive adequate care or attention from healthcare providers or society as a whole which needs addressing with establishing large neurorehabilitation centers that provide such patients with proper care and experimental treatments options are needed.
It would be good if everyone who heard Vanja’s story sends messages as it means soul food for him and may help him hope for better tomorrow.
Dnevnik Nova TV reporter Domagoj Mikić talked about Vanja with Marina Raguž who confirmed that messages can really stimulate the brain.