In France, between 1,500 and 3,000 people have chronic disorders of consciousness. Difficult to have a more precise number, in the absence of a register. Victims of a head trauma, cerebral anoxia after a cardiac arrest or a cerebrovascular accident, they are in a state qualified as “vegetative”, that is to say awake but unconscious, or in a state called “minimal consciousness”. We now know that the chances of recovery are higher in the latter case. This is why research is increasing to find the reliable tools which would make it possible to detect signs of conscience, even if they are very limited.
As recalled by Pr Lionel Naccache, neurologist at La Pitié-Salpêtrière and head of one of the most advanced teams on the subject, “it is difficult to know whether these patients are conscious or not only by observing them since we cannot communicate with them “. To help doctors make the diagnosis, there are