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Waking Up: Brain stimulator spurs dramatic improvement years after injury

A man who spent 6 years in a minimally conscious state regained the ability to talk, eat, and move after doctors implanted electrodes deep in his brain.

"The improvements were significant, particularly the communication, because it allowed him to reengage his world," says Nicholas Schiff, a neuroscientist at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

"We're essentially jump-starting the brain," says Ali Rezai of the Cleveland Clinic.

Before the surgery, the man, who suffered brain damage during an assault, was fed via tubes and showed almost no awareness. He sometimes moved his eyes and thumbs in response to simple, yes-no questions, but the pattern "was very inconsistent," says Schiff.

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