Severe disorders of consciousness after acquired brain injury: A single-centre long-term follow-up study

NeuroRehabilitation. 2017;40(4):509-517. doi: 10.3233/NRE-171438.


Objectives: To assess long-term clinical outcome, functional independence and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in acquired brain injury (ABI) patients with a disorder of consciousness at admission to inpatient rehabilitation.

Methods: We selected patients from a cohort of ABI patients from a single centre. In addition to mortality, we measured level of consciousness with the Coma Remission Scale, functional independence with the Barthel Index, as well as generic and condition-specific HRQOL with the EQ5D and the "Quality of Life after Brain Injury" (QOLIBRI) respectively.

Results: Half of the obtained sample had died by follow-up. Survivors were younger at onset, in a minimally conscious state (MCS) at admission and had spent longer time in rehabilitation. Patients in a MCS were more likely to survive, and be in a state better than MCS over the follow-up time than patients with an unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (UWS). A small proportion of patients with UWS at admission emerged from MCS at follow-up. Emergence from MCS was associated with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and higher functional independence.

Conclusion: Clinical outcome is mostly concordant with previous findings. Survivors' rehabilitation duration suggest revision of current standards. HRQOL results indicate a correlation with functional independence and that condition-specific HRQOL should not be neglected.

Keywords: Acquired brain injury; disorders of consciousness; health-related quality of life; long-term outcome.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Injuries / complications
  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis
  • Brain Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Brain Injuries / therapy
  • Consciousness Disorders / diagnosis
  • Consciousness Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Consciousness Disorders / etiology
  • Consciousness Disorders / therapy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Inpatients / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Treatment Outcome