A neurologist, Plum researched consciousness — and unconsciousness, especially comas — choosing the career as a teen, when his sister died from polio. He was named head of the department of neurology at the University of Washington, making him the youngest chief in the institution’s history. There he created a respiratory center to help treat patients who were unconscious or comatose. Plum and Scottish neurosurgeon Byron Jennett developed the Glasgow Coma Scale in the 1970s, an objective way of documenting and monitoring the conscious state of a patient. It’s still used today, starting in the field by paramedics. Plum and Jennett also coined the term “persistent vegetative state.” Dr. Plum died in a Manhattan hospice June 11 from primary progressive aphasia, a form of dementia. He was 86.
From This is True for 13 June 2010