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Amitabh Bachchan's Voicenote To Raju Shrivastava: How Does The Sound Of Loved Ones Awaken A Comatose Brain?

Actor and stand-up comedian Raju Srivastava has been admitted to AIIMS hospital in Delhi. On 10 August, the comedian suffered a heart attack and underwent angioplasty surgery.

His business manager Nayan Soni informed a media outlet that Raju's condition is improving, and he is even responding to treatment and medication. According to him, Raju can now move some body parts while he is still on a ventilator. According to the doctor, Raju is expected to regain consciousness after a week.

According to reports, Amitabh Bachchan sent an audio message to Raju Srivastava, who is on a ventilator in the intensive care unit. Doctors advise that listening to the voice of your loved ones will speed up their recovery.

How Does The Sound Of Loved Ones Awaken A Comatose Brain?

As part of his wish for Raju Srivastava's speedy recovery, Amitabh Bachchan sent him a video message saying, "It's enough Raju. Rise up Raju, and keep teaching us all to laugh."

Despite Raju's unconscious state, Big B's message was played to him on the advice of his doctors, who suggested that listening to a loved one's voice might speed up his recovery. Upon learning of Raju's condition, Amitabh decided to send an audio message to the comedian [1].

When a person is in a coma, they are unconscious and cannot communicate with their environment. They cannot speak, and their eyes are closed [2]. Despite this, the brain of a coma patient can continue to function. It may be able to detect/hear sounds in the environment, such as footsteps approaching or a voice speaking.

Let's look at how we can measure brain activity in comatose patients and how the brains of coma patients respond to sounds.

  • The cause of a coma can be a traumatic brain injury, stroke, or loss of oxygen following a near drowning. Comas may also be caused by severe alcohol poisoning or encephalitis (brain infection). In addition, a diabetic who suddenly has low blood sugar levels (hypoglycaemia) or high blood sugar levels (hyperglycaemia) may suffer a coma [3].
  • In most cases, patients progress from a coma to a minimally conscious state or a vegetative state, which can last for a few weeks, months, or even years [4]. The following are some of the findings of relevant studies exploring how the sound of a loved one can help a patient in a coma:
  • Compared to patients who did not hear familiar stories repeated by family members four times a day for six weeks, patients who heard familiar stories played over headphones recovered consciousness significantly faster.
  • Consequently, coma patients can wake up more easily, become more aware of their environment, and begin responding to conversations and directions. Similarly, coming out of anaesthesia is the first step to regaining full consciousness.
  • As part of the experiment, the researchers attempted to determine if patients were responsive to sensory information such as bells or whistles, whether they followed directions to open their eyes, and if they were alert enough to track a person walking across the room visually. Six weeks after treatment, their responses provided a benchmark to determine whether they had changed or improved.
  • In addition, researchers had the patients listen to familiar and unfamiliar voices and tell different stories to obtain a baseline MRI of how their blood oxygen levels changed as they listened to the stories.
  • As patients in the study listened to a family member speak their names and recite stories during an MRI, their brains showed increased neural activity [5].

[image source: zeenews]

"We saw changes in the blood oxygen level in their brain regions associated with retrieving long-term memory and understanding language," Pape said. "That means they were using those regions of their brains."

"We believe hearing those stories in parents' and siblings' voices exercises the parts of the brain responsible for long-term memories," said lead author Theresa Pape [6].

On A Final Note...

The studies on how the sound of a loved one can influence the brain of a comatose patient say that there is a need for medical doctors to be able to determine which coma patients are likely to awaken from their comas. Patients' families will also benefit from this information, as it will assist them in providing the best treatment possible.

Story first published: Wednesday, August 17, 2022, 12:04 [IST]
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