Scott Routley’s parents say they always thought he was conscious and could communicate by lifting a thumb or moving his eyes. But this has never been accepted by medical staff.

Prof Bryan Young at University Hospital, London – Mr Routley’s neurologist for a decade – said the scan results overturned all the behavioural assessments that had been made over the years.

“I was impressed and amazed that he was able to show these cognitive responses. He had the clinical picture of a typical vegetative patient and showed no spontaneous movements that looked meaningful.”