A unique study led to an amazing result: a smell test makes it possible to determine whether a person who has suffered a brain injury will regain consciousness. It was developed by scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Previously, they believed that odours could detect the recovery and survival of patients with severe head injuries. Their studies showed that an inexpensive smell test is very effective, and it helps to develop methods for the further treatment of patients with brain injuries and loss of consciousness.
TBI is a condition of the brain in which an external force disrupts the normal functions of the brain. This can happen in many cases - a traffic accident, a blow to the head, a fall from a height. A blow can bring a person into an unconscious state, which can drag on for a long time. After such an injury, assessing the patient’s condition is extremely difficult.
The key point for this is the manifestation of patient consciousness. Even if it is minimal, then this is already a good prognosis for its continued survival. Besides, it is only in the patient’s mind that it is possible to make an accurate diagnosis since in this state the treatment strategy is determined. One of the fundamental mechanisms that physicians are guided by in such cases is related to the sense of smell.
The brain, even injured, continues to perceive odours. For example, when it smells of something unpleasant, then a person even in an unconscious state takes short sighs. Researchers concluded that the sense of smell is one of the most important biomarkers of consciousness, no matter in what state the brain is. In their work, they used an odour response test to determine the level of creation in patients with brain damage.
Using this test, doctors identified a sensitive measure of olfactory function. To obtain such conclusions, they repeatedly measured the patient’s response to odour. For this, various flavours were used to test 43 patients. In each case, the reaction of the body to the smell of shampoo, spoiled fish was checked.
The amount of odour that was delivered to the patient was measured in a certain way. It turned out that patients with minimal consciousness present inhaled odours in different ways: they inhaled less unpleasant odours.
Patients in a vegetative state surprised researchers by the fact that in some cases a reaction to aromas was observed, which means that a patient who was in an unconscious state had the opportunity to restore consciousness in the future.