Dr Sam Parnia, key organiser of the AWARE studies, is now on a Twitter account, of interest to those who wish to keep updated of his activities. (@SamParniaMDPhD). He indicates that there will be a web site or central portal of some sort to hold news and information on the AWARE II study, which is good news again for those following.
He has announced that the study will now go on until 2020, when a results presentation will be made to the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians. This planned time extension can only be good for the study. It will be bring it in line to match the length, and hopefully breadth of the first AWARE. A larger data pool and more analysis means better observations and deductions. Many followers thought from the outset that a 2 year study was too ambitious.
There are currently 8 participating hospitals in the study, with an option to extend to 25. Dr Parnia is on the look out for more participants, presumably with a view to recruiting towards the higher number. This could be what the discovered PowerPoint slides in the ‘intervention presentation’ as discussed in the last article were about.
Again, this is encouraging. It would seem there is ongoing enthusiasm and support from the medical community at large, especially from the emergency resuscitation field. The study is accepted as a viable project with worthy aims.
Last year, October 2016, Dr Parnia made an appearance on the American television show Dr Oz, in a feature about the experience of dying. It can still be viewed at – http://www.doctoroz.com/episode/oz-investigates-final-7-minutes-death-what-does-it-really-feel-die?video_id=5170234436001
He spoke enthusiastically of the study and it’s aims, which in short, he says are:
1) Improve resuscitation techniques to achieve a better outcome for cardiac arrest patients.
2) Learn more of the subjective experience patients go through in such situations, with a view to educate at large possible expectations to have of the dying process.
3) Explore the relationship between consciousness and the dying brain, examining further the details of memories in near death experience.
Dr Parnia believes that the experiences are a universal phenomenon which everyone undergoes through the dying process. Depending on the quality of resuscitation, and thus the recovery speed of the patient post cardiac arrest, there is a ‘spectrum’ of recollection. The spectrum would start from remembering absolutely nothing at all at one end, to a full vivid account of apparent witness at the other.
The suggestion is that the post arrest ‘tsunami’ of brain cell inflammation and chemical shock quite often destroys any memory of experience, unless mitigated by better oxygenation throughout the arrest, thus reducing post event damage.
It is a proposed relationship that the study is geared to explore.
Analysis of these variables at the end of the study will certainly give insight and open debate on the states of physiological functionality during cardiac arrest, as well as question the relationship between consciousness and memory, and indeed memory storage, physiological or otherwise.
At what point do these experiences and the memorising of them occur? I feel this will have to be discussed and conjectured upon if the idea of better recovery contributing to recollection is going to become the focus.
There is of course still the holy grail as far followers of AWARE are concerned, will there be a confirmed veridical visual out of body experience? Can there be?
We watch with interest, and wish the practitioners and indeed the patients the best in their endeavours.