Part I of this article looks at the three main "narratives" that are commonly employed to describe the Schiavo case, and it recounts the basic facts concerning Terri Schiavo's brain injury and the early, but quickly-abandoned, attempt at rehabilitation. Part II is an examination of how the demise of one of the most profoundly harmful dogmas in the history of medicine-the theory that the brain is "hard-wired" and that no amount of rehabilitation can cause the brain to rewire itself-occurred too late in the litigation for the judges or advocates in either Schiavo or Englaro to understand that Terri and Eluana might actually have been able to communicate "cognitively" rather than physically. That too is a cautionary tale about the ways in which "iconoclastic researchers" were able to use state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging and aggressive, but (then) unorthodox, rehabilitation techniques to demonstrate that conventional wisdom in neurology in the 1990s was simply wrong. Part III develops a model of ethical and effective representation and judging brain injury cases, and Parts IV through VII draw lessons from that model based on the facts of the Schiavo case.
Robert A. Destro, Learning Neuroscience the Hard Way: The Terri Schiavo Case and the Ethics of Effective Representation, 78 MISS. L. J. 833 (2009).