Coma Arousal Therapy for Disorder of Consciousness
December 26, 2022
Coma Arousal Therapy for Disorder of Consciousness
Some patients who have had a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury will have
considerable and protracted consciousness impairment. Coma Arousal therapy demands
may differ from those of other patient groups, and they typically require
consciousness-improving treatments in addition to other forms of treatment and therapy
utilised in traumatic brain injury neurorehabilitation. This group agrees that preventing
medical and neurological problems is the top priority, and there is currently no
pharmaceutical treatment that has been shown to hasten or enhance the recovery from
Disorder of Consciousness
- Due to the challenges with diagnostic coding and the temporary nature of some
consciousness abnormalities, there is no official registry of patients with
- Despite the fact that patients with awareness disorders reveal injuries in distinct
regions of the brain.
- Patients with consciousness issues can be treated in a variety of settings, including
hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation institutions, and community/nursing care facilities.
- The facilities and treatment team should have experience caring for patients with
consciousness issues and employ a multidisciplinary approach involving family
- In addition to nursing care and therapy, it is recommended that multimodal
stimulation consisting of auditory (normal conversation), visual (images),
tactile-kinaesthetic (movement and touch), and olfactory (known scents such as
perfumes and food) stimulation be offered.
- Changes in a person’s state of consciousness, awareness, or responsiveness as a result
of a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury are referred to as altered
Unconsciousness includes these following conditions
- A person in a coma cannot be awoken, is unconscious of self and surroundings, and
cannot respond to stimuli.
- This is the outcome of extensive damage to all regions of the brain.
- After a traumatic brain injury, the patient may emerge from a coma or enter a
vegetative state at various intervals.
- A person in a vegetative state will exhibit basic consciousness with a partially
recovered sleep-wake cycle, but they will be unaware.
- The individual is unconscious but may open their eyes, make sounds, respond to
reflexes, and/or move.
- Some facial expressions may exist for no apparent reason. Behaviors demonstrated
may include posture in response to pain, vocalization, reflexive movement patterns,
and startle in response to visual cues.
- Some people can move from a vegetative state to a minimally conscious condition,
while others can remain in a vegetative state indefinitely.
- The degree and rate of transition from a coma or vegetative state depend on the
extent of brain injury.
- Approximately fifty percent of individuals with TBI who are in a vegetative state one
month after the event will regain consciousness; nevertheless, lingering physical and
cognitive disabilities are frequently present.
A person in a coma requires complex care, including the following:
- Postural management program preventing deformities, contractures, and pressure
ulcers include muscle tone control by positioning, splinting, mobilization, and
alternative seating solutions.
- Bladder and bowel management
- Respiratory care involving treatment of secretions, such as suctioning and
- Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) Feeding
- Infections such as urinary tract infections and chest infections are treated.
- Medical and neurological problems, such as seizures, may be treated or prevented.
Consciousness - Minimally Conscious State
A condition characterised by substantially impaired consciousness but with some symptoms
of self- or environment-awareness. The degree and consistency of awareness may fluctuate,
but it is reproducible. Various minimally aware states have been identified:
- The absence of linguistically mediated behaviour in a minimally conscious state, i.e.
- Minimal consciousness plus language-mediated behaviour, such as command
compliance and verbalization.
- Emerging from a minimally conscious state and returning to a condition of functional
object usage and communication.
- The minimally conscious state is characterised by the following behaviours:
localization to pain stimuli, non-reflexive movement patterns, fixation and pursuit of
visual stimuli, intelligible verbalization, inconsistently following commands,
unreliable yes/no responses, and inconsistent object manipulation.
- Infrequently, the minimally conscious condition occurs between coma or vegetative
state and full consciousness.
As a person emerges from a minimally conscious state, confusions manifest as
disorientation, attention and memory deficiencies, restlessness, variable responsiveness,
drowsiness, and sometimes delusions. Typically, the shorter the period of disorientation, the
better the recovery.
Different states of Consciousness include the following
It is typically caused by brainstem disease that affects voluntary control of movement
without affecting alertness or consciousness. “locked-in” patients are profoundly paralysed
but awake. After establishing their clinical state, they can use numerous means of
communication, such as simple facial expressions, eye or eyelid movements, and
computerised eye gazing systems. However, the diagnostic process might be drawn out,
which is quite frustrating for the patient. A person with Locked-in syndrome has a long life
expectancy and can control their environment and access technology for word processing,
voice synthesis, and Internet use due to medical advancements.
2. Brainstem Death
Brainstem death is determined when there is no detectable brain and brainstem activity.
Coma, absence of brain stem reflexes, and apnea are the results that will indicate brain death
as part of a rigorous testing protocol. The removal of breathing apparatus from a brain-dead
individual will result in cessation of breathing and eventual cardiac failure. Brain death is
irreversible and can be declared by two senior physicians doing the test twice. Only if all
tests at both times yield negative results may brain death be certified. The procedure is then
followed by a series of measures that facilitate communication with family members and
remove artificial ventilation or involve transplant teams, as outlined in national clinical
The evaluation of consciousness plays a crucial role in the rehabilitation of individuals with
Disorders of Consciousness following a brain injury. Approximately 40% of those diagnosed
with persistent vegetative state exhibited some level of consciousness, while 10% of those
diagnosed with minimally conscious condition had emerged from it. The incorrect diagnosis
- Lack of understanding of the unique characteristics of a vegetative state and minimally
- Reliance on neurological bedside evaluation and underestimate of neurobehavioral
- Lack of longitudinal evaluation
- Coexisting complicated impairment that conceals specific behaviour, such as vision
or hearing impairment
- pharmacological drugs that suppress consciousness, such as sedatives.
- Misdiagnosis has far-reaching effects on long-term recovery, as it may restrict access
to neurorehabilitation, communication plan formulation, and treatment access, and have
an effect on care withdrawal.
The gold standards for assessing consciousness are behavioural assessment instruments.
Patients on the spectrum of vegetative state may benefit from functional neuroimaging tests
based on yes or no responses and utilising various brain centre activation patterns. In both
instances, negative findings have been seen, which suggests that some patients who were
labelled with a minimally conscious condition exhibited no consciousness.
Coma Arousal Therapy with Disorders of Consciousness
The distinctive elements of rehabilitation for patients with Disorders of Consciousness are as
Providing treatment that raises the patient's level of consciousness
- Underemployment / Understimulation
- Disrupted Sleep-Wake Cycle
- Concomitant Pharmacological Sedation and Medical such as infection and metabolic
- Neuroendocrine Abnormalities
- Intracranial Abnormalities
Another type of intervention includes treatments that modulate and enhance consciousness
directly. These treatments include general neurorehabilitation with multimodal interventions
E.g., sensory stimulation, mobilisation such as handling, FES Cycling, postural management
with position changes, sitting up in bed, verticalization via tilt table or bodyweight support,
and interpersonal interaction, particularly with family members.
There is substantial evidence that verticalization, like environmental enrichment, enhances
- Utilizing pharmaceutical agents. Neurostimulants engaging catecholaminergic
pathways, such as amantadine, levodopa, amphetamine, and GABA Agonists, such
- Energy Modalities, such as deep brain stimulation, transcranial magnetic stimulation,
vagus nerve stimulation, and low-intensity focused ultrasound.
- Biological Therapies, such as stem cell therapy, have shown some promise.
All of these interventions aim to activate undamaged but suppressed networks responsibly
for consciousness and allow clinicians to believe that patients can be moved from a
vegetative state to a minimally conscious state or emerge from a minimally conscious state if
network integrity and optimal stimulation are present.
Addressing Requests Limiting Medical Treatment, Education, and Support for Relatives, and Long-Term Placement Planning.
Consideration must be given to neurorehabilitation programmes vs palliative care at the end
of life. The issue of quality of life relates to the prompt and accurate identification of
vegetative or minimally conscious states, as well as the availability of specialised
rehabilitation and care facilities. The patients assigned to generic placements had a higher
incidence of problems and a slower recovery of awareness. It must be acknowledged that
medical stability is a prerequisite for full access to neurotherapeutic treatment; hence, the
placement must be scheduled correctly to maximise the use of neurorehabilitation services.
Families of patients with consciousness issues deserve special consideration due to the
difficulties of the decisions they must make shortly after their loved one’s traumatic brain
injury. They may have to make decisions on treatment termination or organ donation.
During protracted disorders of consciousness, relatives also frequently struggle with their
family member’s experience. The challenging nature of consciousness and the complex
procedures that accompany the treatment and rehabilitation of people with consciousness
problems are additional sources of stress. A non-trained individual may find it difficult to
comprehend, for instance, that a person who can open their eyes, make noises, or perform
reflexive motions can nonetheless remain asleep. Therefore, support and education are
essential for the successful integration of family and friends into the multidisciplinary team.
Families contribute crucial information and lengthen “the observation period” by frequently
spending time with the individual with consciousness issues when clinical professionals is
absent, e.g. in the nights. They may also recognise subtle changes and provide more potent
cues than medical personnel to enhance the behavioural response of a person with
Families that do not want their loved ones to be sent home must be given special training
attention. Rehabilitation of patients with consciousness problems shares some characteristics
with rehabilitation of patients with severe traumatic brain injury:
Medical and Neurological Complication Management
They are typically associated with general symptoms of traumatic brain injury, but
frequently more severe
Managing Neuromusculoskeletal Problems
Patients with consciousness disorders frequently exhibit the following symptoms: weakness,
spasticity, contractures, heterotopic ossification, peripheral nerve injury, and critical illness
polyneuropathy. This area of intervention has a significant impact on neurorehabilitation in
general, as motor response is frequently examined during consciousness examinations,
which affects the care pathway. Musculoskeletal health enables more effective pain
management, posture, and mobility, as well as dictates the extent of future voluntary
Patients in the minimally conscious state are capable of feeling pain, and analgesic treatment
is appropriate for multiple sources of pain e.g., muscle tone changes, infections, cannulation,
etc. However, the sedative nature of these pharmacological agents must be considered
during consciousness assessment.
Coma arousal therapy is a treatment approach that is used in individuals who are in
a coma or a vegetative state. It involves a range of techniques and strategies that are
designed to stimulate the brain and help the person regain consciousness. This can
include sensory stimulation, such as playing music, using light or touch to stimulate
the senses, or using medications to increase brain activity.
The goals of coma arousal therapy are to improve brain function, increase awareness
and responsiveness, and ultimately help the person regain consciousness. It is
usually part of a comprehensive treatment plan that may also include other
therapies, such as physical therapy or speech therapy, to help the person recover
from their coma or vegetative state.
It’s important to note that coma arousal therapy is not always successful and the
outcomes can vary widely depending on the individual’s specific condition and the
extent of brain damage. In some cases, the therapy may help a person regain some
level of consciousness, while in other cases it may not be effective. It is important to
work closely with a healthcare team to determine the best treatment plan for an
individual in a coma or vegetative state.
Communikare provides a service called coma arousal stimulation for people with
disorders of consciousness, such as coma or vegetative state. This type of treatment
involves using various stimuli, such as touch, sound, and light, to stimulate the brain
and promote arousal and awareness. The goal of coma arousal stimulation is to
improve the patient’s level of consciousness and cognitive function, and to improve
their chances of recovery.
Coma arousal stimulation is typically administered by trained healthcare
professionals, such as physical therapists, occupational therapists, and
speech-language pathologists. It is often combined with other forms of therapy, such
as rehabilitation and medication management, to maximize the patient’s chances of
It is important to note that coma arousal stimulation is not a cure for disorders of
consciousness, and the effectiveness of the treatment will vary depending on the
individual patient and the severity of their condition. It is also important to have
realistic expectations about the potential outcomes of coma arousal stimulation, as it
may not always lead to a full recovery
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