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Pain felt at low conscious level

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Patients in a minimally conscious state (MCS) feel pain as much as healthy people, a study has suggested.

While MCS patients show some evidence of self and environmental awareness, it is very difficult to assess pain levels through their behaviour, said University of Belgium researchers.

Their study of the areas of the brain responsible for pain found that none of these areas were less activated in minimally conscious patients than they were in controls.

‘These findings might be objective evidence of a potential pain perception capacity in patients in MCS, which supports the idea that these patients need painkilling treatment,’ the researchers say in a forthcoming edition of The Lancet Neurology.

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