A man who doctors considered giving up hope for in the aftermath of a traumatic cycling accident in 2010, is now back home and communicating with the family who never gave up on him.

After Rohan Pais was critically injured, doctors deemed him vegetative.

Pais’ wife, Paula, says that, although her husband was considered to be in a vegetative state, she refused to abandon hope for his recovery.

“I’ve never given up on Rohan,” Paula said. “He is where he is today because I still haven’t given up.”

Even as his caregivers were suggesting Paula stop hoping he would ever recover, she heard about a new test involving a type of portable EEG called Neurovox. The painless procedure, which involves inserting electrodes into the brain, showed a response when doctors said Pais’ name.

That discovery prompted doctors to stimulate his brain, to try and get his body to work again. A major turning point came when hospital staff were singing Happy Birthday to another patient and Pais suddenly joined in. 

Neuroscientist John Connolly says that it is difficult for emergency room physicians to determine a patient’s brain activity, making it vitally important they have the right diagnostic tools to determine the prognosis for brain-injured patients. 

It is estimated that one in five people who are deemed in a vegetative state are misdiagnosed by doctors.

And while it is hard to understand Pais, doctors say the fact that he can communicate is a big step forward in his recovery.