Family Experiences of Vegetative and Minimally Conscious States

What is locked in syndrome?

Patients who are ‘locked in’ are conscious but paralysed following brain damage – for example after a stroke. They can usually communicate by using movements of the eyes or eyelids. The experience of locked-in syndrome has been described by a journalist Jean-Dominique Bauby in his book, ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’, which was also made into a film. Another well-known individual with locked-in syndrome was Tony Nicklinson who brought a very important High Court case to allow a doctor to end his life without facing a charge of murder. He subsequently refused food and died of pneumonia six days later.

Last reviewed December 2017.


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