n. A rare medical state in which the patient's brain stem has been destroyed, resulting in complete paralysis from the neck down while still maintaining full consciousness and mental activity.
Jean-Dominique Bauby, a well-known Parisian journalist, has a stroke and loses consciousness; on awaking he finds himself paralysed and unable to speak. . . .The resultant locked-in syndrome left him unable to communicate except by flickering his left eyelid — enough to enable him, via an amanuensis, to write The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly, in which he poetically muses on his life and predicament.
There are odd effects such as locked-in syndrome, which leaves victims alert in mind but unable to interact or even blink.
Jolted from sleep by a heart attack in the middle of the night, John Silver of Willets, Calif., became in July 1979 one of the rare medical cases with a ''locked-in syndrome.'' Occlusion of his brain's left vertebral artery left him almost totally paralyzed. He could not speak, swallow normally or move his body below the neck, except for slight motion of the right thumb. But his mind was clear. He signaled messages by blinking his eyes.