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June 17, 2005

I Was Wrong...

Topics: General

On Wednesday morning, I predicted that the autopsy report for Terri Schiavo would in some way purport to draw the conclusion that Terri was in a PVS.

I was wrong about that. But that's the kind of thing I'm happy to be wrong about.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Dr. Thogmartin, the Pinellas County Medical Examiner, and Dr. Stephen Nelson, the consulting neuropathologist, were quite measured and reasonable in the conclusions they made concerning Terri's neurological state. They stated clearly in the report, and reiterated several times during Wednesday's press conference, that PVS is a clinical diagnosis and cannot be confirmed by autopsy. They confined themselves to stating that Terri had severe brain damage, and that such damage was "consistent with" a diagnosis of PVS.

A reporter questioned Dr. Nelson about whether Terri's autopsy results meant that Terri's family could not have interacted with her, as they claimed. Dr. Nelson, to his credit, said quite emphatically, "no, not at all". He again reiterated that pathological studies cannot confirm PVS. This conforms with what other neurologists have observed, that there is no correlation between the size of the brain, or the number of neurons present, and a person's cognitive function.


But I Was Right...

Unfortunately, the measured, reasonable conclusions of the autopsy report have not stopped ignorant journalists and pundits from making erroneous and outrageous claims about what the autopsy "proved". In my previous post, I quoted Boston neurologist Dr. Peter Morin, saying that he expected "gross overstatements regarding the implications of the neuropathology." Dr. Morin's pessimistic expectations have been realized: News reports such as this AP story describe the autopsy report as "vindicating" Michael Schiavo in his contention that Terri was a vegetable, when in fact it does no such thing. Joe Scarborough, on his MSNBC program Scarborough Country, asserted that the Medical Examiner said that Terri had "no brain activity". Tampa Tribune columnist Daniel Ruth, in a screed directed mainly at talk-show host Glenn Beck, claimed that the autopsy "confirmed" that Terri was in a PVS. Even more egregiously, he put words in Dr. Nelson's mouth, writing that the doctor stated that Terri had "no cognitive capability, " when he had neither said nor written any such thing.

It seems to me, barring the rage-induced excesses of Ruth and his ilk, that the pundits and reporters have made a fundamental logical error. They have interpreted the pathologists' statements that the condition of Terri's brain is "consistent with" PVS as somehow meaning "indicative of" or "supportive of" the PVS diagnosis. And that's not at all what the words mean. To say that something is "consistent" with something else is merely to say that they can co-exist - that one is not contradictory of the other. "Consistent with" is not synonymous with "indicative of" or "probative". To say that the condition of Terri's brain was "consistent with" PVS does not eliminate or exclude other explanations or conclusions.

And there is evidence to support other conclusions. Dr. Morin, elaborating on the lack of correlation between the amount of brain tissue and consciousness, said "No one knows how many neurons are necessary for consciousness." Indeed, patients with surprisingly little brain tissue are sometimes seen to have remarkably high function. Florida neurologist Dr. Mack Jones said "What is seen grossly doesn't always tell the story." He recalled the case of a patient who suffered from severe hydrocephalus: The patient had "a rim of cerebral cortex" only a few millimeters thick. "And yet", he said, "the young woman by all appearances functioned normally. If her brain were examined at autopsy without a clinical history, one would assume that this individual couldn't have had much useful function at all."

Now, clearly Terri was not going to regain anything like "normal" function. But the above case indicates how little we really know about what goes on in the brain, and how little we can conclude regarding the "awareness" of Terri, or any brain-injured patient. In short, the autopsy "proved" very little regarding Terri's level of consciousness or awareness. The pathologists made sober, reasonable judgments. But those reasonable and sober judgments were lost, apparently, on the opinion-arbiters of the MSM. The distortions and outright misrepresentations continue apace.

It may be just my cynicism again, but perhaps it was too much to expect otherwise.

Cross-posted at Thrown Back

Posted by Fr. Rob at June 17, 2005 8:25 AM


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Comments

The autopsy showed Terri had 50% of her brain intact. Scientists, including Einstein, estimate that we use 10% of our brain at most. Therefore by simple math, Terri had ample recovery potential.

Other points not covered in the autopsy report: What was the cause of death? What was the cause of the 1990 collapse?

I see these autopsy results as supporting the idea that a woman who had enough brain tissue intact to signficantly improve with the appropriate rehab, was not given that opportunity and killed instead.

Posted by: Anna_Nordin at June 17, 2005 11:40 AM

"The autopsy showed Terri had 50% of her brain intact. Scientists, including Einstein, estimate that we use 10% of our brain at most. Therefore by simple math, Terri had ample recovery potential."

Please tell me that you're joking. First off, Einstein was a physicist. Therefore, if he ever stated that, it was from a philosophical point of view.

Secondly, it's not even true: http://www.snopes.com/science/stats/10percnt.htm

Third off: http://www.warriorsfortruth.com/images/terri-schiavo-brain-cat-sca.jpg

That 50% of her brain was the part that made her a conscious, feeling person. It was not going to miraculously grow back. You could have every medical treatment that will ever be available in the future and you STILL would not be able to bring back Terri Schiavo.

Posted by: Shmoykins at June 17, 2005 12:00 PM

Theory says Elephants fly too.
So what?

ONE DR offered his OPINION on the site, and you grasp at it as FACT??
LOLOLOL
Too funny......The EXPERTS didn't even agree about Terri's case/condition.....and this so called, EXPERT is credible?
Ah-----yea....right.
ONE so called expert made a life and death choice over a woman who couldn't speak, and he bases HIS OPINION in the span of what......45 minutes??

Please...........get real Shmoykins.
If you want to base life on 50% of our brain...how do you explain educated fools? They probably have 100% brain use, and they're brain dead.

You sure would be singing a different tune, if a PERSON had the OPINION of life-0ver-death on YOU, and they based their OPINION on you within....oh let's say........5 Seconds.

Posted by: LNaranjoiv at June 17, 2005 1:21 PM

Thanks for coming to my defense LNaranjoiv.

Shmoykins: The idea was never to bring Terri back to 100%. The reasonable milestone would have been to rehabilitate to the point where she could indicate yes or no to questions and than ask her the big EUTHANASIA question. She wasn't even provided that opportunity. Even the neuropathologist couldn't determine that the 50% missing was the part that made her a "conscious feeling person"; You must have SOME credentials! No one said it was going to grow back. Given the right stimulus, it can be trained to have other neuronal circuits take over the functions of the damaged areas with the right stimulus. Shall I reference our published research papers? That would explain cases of persons with LESS cortex than Terri being conscious, alert and interactive. What is your real motive for checking into BlogsforTerri? To try to make yourself feel important by making smart comments to people who are giving their opinion here? I suggest a self confidence encounter group instead.

Posted by: Anna_Nordin at June 17, 2005 3:06 PM

There is a 12 year old girl who literally has half a brain. She was having such bad seizures that the doctors had no choice. She has no function of her left arm and has no pheparial (sp??) vision. Otherwise she functions fine. They did note that an adult can not adjust as easily as a child but it can be done. Science is afraid to admit but it really only knows so much about the true power of the brain.

If she had no eye site, how was she able to look at the camera for the pictures or follow the ballon at all. The eyes have to send information to the brain. I don't buy it.

Posted by: Julie at June 17, 2005 3:49 PM

"...The EXPERTS didn't even agree about Terri's case/condition..."

Okay... there is exactly ONE DOCTOR who has publically gone against the PVS diagnosis. That one doctor is listed on quackwatch.org (Hammesfahr).

"Science is afraid to admit but it really only knows so much about the true power of the brain."

That is true, but by studying brain activity during various activities, researchers can deduce what some parts of the brain do. The part that was missing did exactly what I said it did: It made her Terri Schiavo. Without it, all she could do was breathe.

"If she had no eye site, how was she able to look at the camera for the pictures or follow the ballon at all. The eyes have to send information to the brain. I don't buy it."

On the subject of eyesight, I believe that whether she was blind or not is irrelevant. The deterioration of that part of the brain was more of a simple observation by the ME.

The balloon video that you see on the internet is about 40 seconds long. The actual video from which it was taken constitutes hours of examination. The doctor tried to get Terri to follow the balloon several more times and was unsuccessful. If you repeat the experiment enough, random chance says that Terri will eventually move her head in the same direction and speed as the balloon at least once. It only happened once. It was not reproducible and totally random.

Posted by: Shmoykins at June 18, 2005 12:02 AM

Hey George Shmoykins, you are so very wrong. Dr Hammesfahr is not a quack. His therapy has been accepted. There are other quacks such as the man who placed the implant into Terri and then did nothing to moniter her condition. He could be classified as a quack doctor.

Now that I have that out of the way, I am going on record as stating that Dr. Hammesfahr has been vindicated. Anyone who bothered to read the Hammesfahr report would know that he stated there was something wrong with Terri's eyes and that explains why she could only see things up close. One of the video clips actually has her father talking about her lazy eye.

On the other hand, Dr. Thogmartin was reporting on Terri's condition at death, not 3 years ago. At death she had suffered further brain damage because she was dehydrated to death. It is probable (Anna please comment) that Terri went blind before death, or it is probable that the report was not saying that she was totally blind but her sight was affected by her brain injury. If it is the latter, then Dr. Hammesfahr's diagnosis was right on the button.

Posted by: Maggie4life at June 18, 2005 1:52 AM

*high-five* Maggie4Life

Posted by: Sirena at June 20, 2005 4:48 PM

"Hey George Shmoykins, you are so very wrong. Dr Hammesfahr is not a quack. His therapy has been accepted."

I have read that his therapy is little more than giving aspirin to stroke victims. He has no credibility. He's just out to make some money. I would not want him treating me.

"There are other quacks such as the man who placed the implant into Terri and then did nothing to moniter her condition. He could be classified as a quack doctor."

And apparently he was a quack doctor: http://www.theempirejournal.com/5090502_license_of_schiavo_docto.htm

Nothing to do with Hammesfahr though.

"Now that I have that out of the way, I am going on record as stating that Dr. Hammesfahr has been vindicated. Anyone who bothered to read the Hammesfahr report would know that he stated there was something wrong with Terri's eyes and that explains why she could only see things up close. One of the video clips actually has her father talking about her lazy eye."

In that "lazy eye" video, doesn't her father hold up a colorful array of flashing lights before her eye goes all weird? That's brilliant. Fire all remaining synapses and seizure her into oblivion. Anyway, a "lazy eye" would be caused by muscles not working properly around the eye. Not as much to do with any proper brain activity.

Posted by: Shmoykins at June 20, 2005 6:01 PM

Smh.....Shmoy?? Are you just plain ignorant, or playing like you are?

You're saying, her father held up BRILLIANT lights to have Terri follow with her eyesight?
However, these same lights would, how did you say:

" Fire all remaining synapses and seizure her into oblivion? "

Ummmmmmmm, even a slow person like you should be able to see the obvious statement you JUST admitted too.

For her to be SIEZED into oblivion, after watching COLORFUL LIGHTS, she must have had VISION to do such.

Thank you Schmoe......for agreeing with what others have been saying her all along.

She had vision.......
and yet another one's educated.
Amazing what you can do to Goober trolls..

Speaking of....IF< Terri's gone, ashes and buried, and YOU whacko's are convinced that's what she wanted?? Why do you still post here?

She's dead...move on. Obviously, you're not as convinced that she just DIED as you'd like us to believe. Trying to convince yourselves that you actually DIDN"T Murder this woman? Or you trying to convince US, that you didn't do it???

If you're SOOOOO convinced that she was toast?
Move on.......why are you so bothered by the banterings of people here??

Posted by: LNaranjoiv at June 20, 2005 7:58 PM

Thanks Leo for the laugh. Yep they are goober trolls. We are not allowed to call them blondes.

Posted by: Maggie4life at June 20, 2005 9:27 PM

With regard to the eyesight, and I can see a lot of people do not understand why the autopsy says what it does - please remember that the cruel death through dehydration caused Terri to lose what was left of her sight.

Dr. Hammesfahr who has successfully treated doctors who have been stroke victims was absolutely right when he picked up that Terri had permanent damage to that area of the brain that assisted with her eyesight. She had very little in the way of eyesight. If you have a look again at the clip when Terri's father is talking to her this becomes obvious. She could track the balloon because she could see the shape. It is more than likely that she had very severe astigmatism.

The kind of brain injury that Terri suffered at the hands of her husband on the morning of her collapse caused permanent damage to her eyesight. Through his cruelty it is probable that she lost the remainder of her sight. However, do keep in mind that legally blind people do have some peripheral vision and it is more than likely that Terri had some peripheral vision up until the time of her death. She definitely recognized family members and she could definitely see other people when she was sitting near the nurse's station in the hospital.

Michael Schiavo needs to answer a lot of questions regarding the deteriorating condition of his wife. Considering what else came out in that report there is no reason to believe that if Theresa had been given continuous and proper therapy that she would have recovered some function. To state otherwise is an outright lie.

I wonder whether the crocodile tears flowed when Terri was interred. What Catholic priest dared to have anything to do with that murderer?

Posted by: Maggie4life at June 20, 2005 9:35 PM

Terri Schiavo: Charts show 30-70 minute gap which authorities mention is blown away to reveal additional 2 hour gap in re: Terri's "collapse" and time Michael Schiavo waited in seeking help - Michael's accounts proven to be no more than stories hiding his complicity in her collapse.

Please provide me feedback re: charts,. I created

Schiavo "Collapse" More Than Two Hour Discrepancy Proven By Charting

http://tekgnosis.typepad.com/tekgnosis/2005/06/terri_schiavo_c.html

Juan V Schoch
Lake Mary, FL

Posted by: pc 93 at June 21, 2005 3:45 AM