Few studies address the course of recovery from prolonged disorders of consciousness (DOC) after severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). This study examined acute and long-term outcomes of persons with DOC admitted to acute inpatient rehabilitation within the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) TBI Model Systems Programs (TBIMS). Of 9028 persons enrolled from 1988 to 2009, 396 from 20 centers met study criteria. Participants were primarily male (73%), Caucasian (67%), injured in motor vehicle collision (66%), with a median age of 28, and emergency department Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score of 3. Participant status was evaluated at acute rehabilitation admission and discharge and at 1, 2, and 5 years post-injury. During inpatient rehabilitation, 268 of 396 (68%) regained consciousness and 91 (23%) emerged from post-traumatic amnesia (PTA). Participants demonstrated significant improvements on GCS (z=16.135, p≤0.001) and Functional Independence Measure (FIM) (z=15.584, p≤0.001) from rehabilitation admission (median GCS=9; FIM=18) to discharge (median GCS=14; FIM=43). Of 337 with at least one follow-up visit, 28 (8%) had died by 2.1 years (mean) after discharge. Among survivors, 66 (21%) improved to become capable of living without in-house supervision, and 63 demonstrated employment potential using the Disability Rating Scale (DRS). Participants with follow-up data at 1, 2, and 5 years post-injury (n=108) demonstrated significant improvement across all follow-up evaluations on the FIM Cognitive and Supervision Rating Scale (p<0.01). Significant improvements were observed on the DRS and FIM Motor at 1 and 2 years post-injury (p<0.01). Persons with DOC at the time of admission to inpatient rehabilitation showed functional improvement throughout early recovery and in years post-injury.