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Taiwan man wakes from year-long coma after magnetic stimulation

Patient partially regains consciousness after 5 months of transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy

(Tainan City Municipal An-nan Hospital photo)

(Tainan City Municipal An-nan Hospital photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An individual in south Taiwan has woken from a coma that lasted for nearly a year following several months of treatment with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

Last year, the 29-year-old from Tainan City suffered severe head trauma after being in a car accident. When he arrived at the hospital, he had lost all vital signs, and although he was successfully resuscitated, he fell into a long coma.

His family did not give up hope and tried various treatments, including hyperbaric medicine, rehabilitation, and traditional Chinese medicine. He was then transferred to Tainan City Municipal An-nan Hospital to receive TMS treatment, which is usually used to treat depression but has shown promise for neurologic conditions including traumatic brain injury.

It is a noninvasive treatment that involves the use of a magnetic coil to stimulate nerve cells in a patient's brain. The treatment was first developed in 1985 and has since been applied to a variety of mental health and brain conditions.

Chang Chun-hung (張俊鴻) director of the psychiatric department of Tainan City Municipal An-nan Hospital, was cited by the hospital as saying that TMS treatment is a non-invasive treatment method. It can stimulate the brain nerves without surgery to achieve therapeutic effects, and is mainly used to treat depression, especially for patients with limited drug efficacy or unacceptable side effects.

However, Chang said that research shows TMS also has potential therapeutic effects on neurological diseases such as brain injury. More clinical research is needed to further explore this modality in the future.

Taiwan man wakes from year-long coma after magnetic stimulation
Patient before and after treatment. (Tainan City Municipal An-nan Hospital)

According to Chang, doctors tried various treatments on the patient for nearly a year, but his Glasgow Coma Scale score was only 8, while the highest score is 15, meaning the person is fully awake. His family continued to search for solutions and when scouring the internet for the latest research. After discussing his condition with the medical team at An-nan Hospital, the patient's family members decided to combine TMS therapy with the other treatments already employed, including hyperbaric medicine, rehabilitation, and traditional Chinese medicine.

Chang said that after about five months of this new regimen, the patient made significant progress and gradually regained consciousness, and started responding to his family members' voices.

Not only can the patient now open his eyes, but he can smile, which greatly encouraged his family members and medical staff. Because this indicates a good possibility of recovery, his family members have opted for continued treatment with the technology.

Chang reminded the public that before using TMS for medical treatment, a careful evaluation must be conducted by the medical team and fully discussed with family members. After this experience of assisting a patient to regain consciousness, Chang said he hoped that this new treatment technology will benefit more suitable patients in the future.