The study, conducted by Theresa Pape, DrPH, and colleagues at the Department of Veterans Affairs and Northwestern University, reports on the development and the psychometric properties of the Disorders of Consciousness Scale© (DOCS). The researchers illustrate how repeated measures of neurobehavioural functioning derived from DOCS improve medical and rehabilitation management during coma recovery.

Ninety-five veterans and civilians over age 18 unconscious after a severe brain injury were evaluated with the DOCS weekly, for up to six weeks. Investigators measured social knowledge, taste and swallowing, olfactory, proprioceptive (perception of one's body in space) and vestibular (balance), auditory, visual, tactile, and testing-readiness.

Investigators found that DOCS is a sensitive, reliable, and valid measure of changes in neurobehavioral functioning in unconscious people within the first year of injury. Improvements, declines, and plateaus in neurobehavioural functioning were reliably and accurately detected - with up to 86 percent certainty.

Data also suggest that tracking individual neurobehavioural recovery patterns during coma recovery is useful for medical and rehabilitation management.

For example, investigators found that medical decision-making regarding short-term effects of pharmacological interventions was improved. Previously undetected secondary medical complications were detected and successfully treated. Individual rehabilitation programs were enhanced.

MEDICA.de; Source: Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development