New clinical research offers possibility of future rehabilitation for patients in minimally conscious or vegetative state

ScienceDaily | 10/17/2019 | Staff
The study builds on promising results from the Centre for Human Brain Health at the University of Birmingham which suggested that non-invasive brain stimulation can improve the success of rehabilitation for non-responsive patients.

The RAINDROP trial, a collaboration between the University of Birmingham and The Wellington Hospital, part of HCA Healthcare UK, will use advanced brain imaging technologies to track the effects of non-invasive brain stimulation in a small group of patients. The aim is to better understand how stimulation techniques can be harnessed to improve communication and recovery, with the hope of one day offering improved rehabilitation rates for non-responsive patients with a prolonged disorder of consciousness.

Improvements - Trauma - Care - Chances - Brain

Improvements in trauma care have increased the chances of surviving the most severe brain injuries. Recent research has shown that as many as 20% of these patients retain a much higher level of awareness than could be expected from their clinical diagnoses -- however, these patients remain unable to demonstrate their awareness, trapped in their unresponsive bodies.

Previous research by the Centre for Human Brain Health at the University of Birmingham and Western University, Canada, pinpointed what happens in the brain to cause this unresponsive behaviour -- suggesting for the first time a potential target for treatment.

RAINDROP - Study - Researchers - Patients - Wellington

In the RAINDROP study, researchers will work with five patients in The Wellington Hospital's Prolonged Disorders of Consciousness Unit (PDoCU) to examine how a form of brain stimulation called transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) can be used to identify and treat damaged connections within the brain.

During the treatment, low levels of direct current are targeted at specific areas of the brain via electrodes placed on the patient's head. The current is applied to a region at the top of the brain responsible for motor control, and also directed at the thalamus, a region deep inside the brain which relays...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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