I had this queued up but not completed (like many blogs unfortunately). But it seems someone tested the touch screen typing “coma man” who supposedly was “talking” via a facilitator after 23 years of being trapped in a coma and found the person talking wasn’t the guy in the wheelchair.

This is the article here: Neurological Rescue Mission: Communicating with Those Trapped within Their Brains. The bit that confirms it was not the coma man writing:

The tests determined that he doesn’t have enough strength and muscle control in his right arm to operate the keyboard. In her effort to help the patient express himself, it would seem that the speech therapist had unwittingly assumed control. This kind of self-deception happens all the time when this method — known as “facilitated communication” — is used.

So if, like me, you think it looks like the therapist was pointing the way: you’d have been spot on.

Rom Houben "uses" his touchscreen via the zealous assistance of his speech therapist Linda Wouters (AP Photo/Yves Logghe)

Now onto what I had queued up:

Is it just me that thinks this “miracle coma man speaks” is probably not the words of the guy in the wheelchair?

See ninemsn’s video showing how the “communication” happens.

Notice some funny things?

How about the eyes closed (asleep?) but still able to supposedly type. Now I can type with my eyes closed, but I’ve been a touch typer for probably about 25 years now thanks to those early touch typing games back on the old mac plus and microbees. I (and anyone else) wouldn’t be able to do so with a touch screen however because I make use of the “home” marks on the J and F keys.

Or how about the speed at which the typing takes place. Hardly the sort of strained movements I’d expect from a person with that sort of crippling disability.

In short I think this is a well meaning/wishful thinking, but actually fraudulent and horrible scam.

Ouija board might replace the computer screen in this case.

Ouija board might replace the computer screen in this case.

The hand holding “communication facilitator” is the wheelchair version of a water diviner or ouija board. They’re taking someone’s hopes/memories of someone and imposing their own over the top. This guy might be trapped in there, but he sure doesn’t look like the words coming out are his.

Now admittedly it could be just a set-up for the cameras which happened because an over enthusiastic camera crew arrived when the poor guy was asleep and demanded some footage. So I’ll take that as a possibility given the guy looks asleep.

So I hope this story gets as much play as the original event (I’m betting it won’t) because just like the “climate emails” misquotes damage the overwhelming science and never quite get cleared up.

Now people have a sound-bite lodged in their brains that people can be misdiagnosed in a coma for 23 years and once given one of these “facilitators” can instantly communicate freely.

All it does is give false hope, misinformation or mean families hold on in vain against the advice of their doctors.

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