Schiphol writes: The statements of a Belgian man believed to be in a coma for 23 years, but recently discovered to be conscious, are poignant, but experts say they may not be his words at all.
Rom Houben’s account of his ordeal, repeated in scores of news stories since appearing Saturday in Der Spiegel, appears to be delivered with assistance from an aide who helps guide his finger to letters on a flat computer keyboard. Called “facilitated communication,” that technique has been widely discredited, and is not considered scientifically valid.
“If facilitated communication is part of this, and it appears to be, then I don’t trust it,” said Arthur Caplan, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Bioethics. “I’m not saying the whole thing is a hoax, but somebody ought to be checking this in greater detail. Any time facilitated communication of any sort is involved, red flags fly.”
Schiphol writes: A Belgian man who doctors thought was in a coma for 23 years was conscious all along. Medical staff believed Rom Houben had sunk irretrievably into a coma after he was injured in a car crash in 1983, and it was only in 2006 that a scan revealed Mr Houben's brain was in fact almost entirely functioning.