February 27, 2024


Neurologists are thrilled at the chance to examine the brain of an American man who "woke up" after 19 unresponsive years in a state of minimal consciousness. An article in the Journal of Clinical Investigation features images of the brain of Terry Wallis, now 42, who skidded off a small bridge in a pick-up truck back in 1984 and woke up in 2003. Although he is still severely impaired, physically and mentally, he is clearly recovering. He recently told his family that he was "proud" to be alive. It appears that his brain is healing itself by forming new neural connections, although what actually spurred his brain into new activity is still a mystery.

Although his case sounds remarkably like Terri Schiavo’s, doctors say that Mr Wallis’s injuries were less severe. During his 19 years of darkness, he never spoke but he was occasionally responsive and appeared to be aware of the presence of other people. Now he is being cared for by his parents and daughter in an impoverished hamlet in rural Arkansas.