New Scale Predicts Recovery After Brain Injury
By Elizabeth Crown
A Northwestern University researcher has developed the first truly reliable measure of neurobehavioral functioning during coma from severe brain injury that predicts recovery of consciousness up to one year after injury, with up to 86 percent certainty.
Theresa Louise-Bender Pape, DrPH, research assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, and her colleagues described the measure, called Disorders of Consciousness ScaleÂ© (DOCS), in a two-part series in the January/February 2005 issue of the Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development.
Using the DOCS, the researchers evaluated military veterans and civilians over age 18 years who were unconscious after a severe brain injury. The test stimuli were organized into eight subscales including social knowledge, taste and swallowing, olfactory, proprioceptive (perception of one’s body in space) and vestibular (balance), auditory, visual, tactile, and testing-readiness.
The investigators found that DOCS accurately detected improvements, declines, and plateaus in neurobehavioral functioning in unconscious patients.
The study also showed how repeated measures using DOCS improved medical and rehabilitation management during coma recovery. The investigators found previously undetected secondary medical complications, which were successfully treated.
Dr. Pape is also a researcher at the Edward Hines, Jr., VA Medical Center in Hines, Illinois, and Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Wheaton, Illinois. Investigators from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago collaborated on the research.
The study was based on work supported by grants from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Midwest Center for Health Services and Policy Research, and National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.
(Reprinted from the Northwestern University News Center.)