A patient who had suffered a traumatic brain injury unexpectedly recovered full consciousness after the administration of midazolam, a mild depressant drug of the GABA A agonists family. This resulted in the first recorded case of an "awakening" from a minimally-conscious state (MCS) using this therapy. Although similar awakenings have been reported using other drugs, this dramatic result was unanticipated. It is reported in Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience.
Traumatic brain injuries occur at high rates all over the world, estimated at 150-250 cases per 100,000 population per year. These injuries can result in several outcomes, ranging from vegetative state, minimally conscious state, severe disability to full recovery. In most cases, the outcome will cause catastrophic changes for his/her family and a signiﬁcant drain on both human and ﬁnancial resources.
Two years after the injury caused by a motor vehicle accident, the patient was mildly sedated, in order to undergo a CT scan, using midazolam instead of the more commonly used propofol. As the authors described in the article, the patient began to interact with the anesthetist and soon after with his parents. He talked by cellphone with his aunt and congratulated his brother when he was informed of his graduation; he recognized the road leading to his home. When he was asked about his car accident, he did not remember anything and apparently he was not aware of his condition. This clinical status lasted about two hours after drug administration and disappeared quickly thereafter, taking the patient back to the previous condition.