Belgian Man Trapped In Coma For 23 Years Was Conscious Throughout

Rom Houben, a Belgian man whom doctors believed to have been in a coma for 23 years following a car crash in 1983, was conscious all the time:
we know because Houben himself has told us, in several media interviews conducted over the last few days.

Doctors in Zolder, Belgium, had repeatedly diagnosed Houben using the internationally accepted Glasgow Coma Scale to assess his eye, verbal and motor
responses. But each time he was incorrectly graded as being in a vegetative state, reported the Daily Mail.

It was only when Steven Laureys, a doctor and researcher at the University of Liège, scanned Houben’s brain in 2006 and discovered it was still
working, although his body was paralysed, that doctors began to realize he may be conscious.

Now 46, Houben told the BBC that he had to learn to be patient. He was very angry at first when he realized other people had an opinion of him that
was rather pathetic, but he had to learn to be patient, he said.

Intense physiotherapy for the last three years has been helping him regain some movement, reports the Guardian.

Houben said he realized when he came round after his accident that his body was paralyzed, and while he could hear everything the doctors were
saying, he couldn’t communicate with them.

“I screamed, but there was nothing to hear,” said Houben.

“I dreamed myself away,” he added, using one finger on a computer touchscreen attached to his wheelchair. The computer is also fitted with a special
device that allows him to read books while lying down, reported the Daily Mail.

Houben said he just spent the time dreaming of a better life.

“Frustration is too small a word to describe what I felt.” he said.

Houben’s paralysis was the result of his brain being starved of oxygen when his heart stopped for a few minutes.

A former engineering student who speaks four languages, Houben said he coped by meditating, according to a Guardian report.

He told his doctors that sometimes he was only his consciousness and “nothing else” as he travelled with his thoughts into the past or “into another
existence”.

When the doctors discovered he was not in a vegetative state, Houben described feeling reborn:

“It was my second birth,” he said.

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