Archive for November, 2012

November 16, 2012

Alzheimer’s risk gene points to role of inflammation

“Scientists have identified a new gene variant that seems to strongly raise the risk for Alzheimer’s disease, giving a fresh target for research into treatments for the mind-robbing disorder” – see http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2012/11/15/alzheimer-gene.html

November 14, 2012

What might “brain viewing” technology mean for the law concerning consent and capacity

The article below shows how advances in medicine have permitted doctors to communicate with a man in what was believed to be a persistent vegetative state.  By looking at brain activity through MRI, doctors were able to ask the patient questions and interpret the brain activity as yes or no responses.  Most importantly, they were able to determine that the patient was not in pain, allowing him a direct say in his care. 

While good news in and of itself, this advance, and those that are certain to follow, will undoubtedly impact on how some personal care decisions will be made in future.  In circumstances where medical professionals and a substitute decision-maker at are odds regarding the care of a loved one, in particular in dealing with end of life issues, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could ask the patient.  While the circumstances of this gentleman’s state of health appear to be quite different from those that the Supreme Court of Canada will be dealing with in the Rasouli case or Desmond Watson’s situation, perhaps one day the role of the courts in these matters will be but a memory. 

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/1287098–vegetative-ontario-man-scott-routley-talks-to-researchers-through-brain-scans

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/the-hot-button/canadian-patient-could-change-thinking-on-brain-injury/article5227276/