Background: The identification of salient stimuli useful for rehabilitation purposes is important in patients with disorders of consciousness (DOC): among these, olfactory stimuli might play an important role due to the functional coupling between olfactory and emotional processing. However, a high percentage of post brain injury patients present anosmia.
Aims of the study: The aim of this pilot research is to present an innovative approach to test olfactory functions at the bedside using four selected odors in patients with DOC.
Methods: Sixteen patients with DOC were tested with two assessment techniques the new olfactory discrimination protocol (ODP) and a functional magnetic resonance imaging paradigm to evaluate olfactory neural process. The Frequentist and Bayesian methods were used to analyze reliability properties of the new tool.
Results: Analysis showed a good agreement between assessment techniques and a substantial test-retest reliability of the ODP. Cohen's Ks were equal to 0.814 (95% CI = 0.471, 1) and 0.607 (0.118; 1) respectively, using the Frequentist approach, while they were 0.762 (95% HPD = 0.470; 0.966) and 0.650 (0.320; 0.913) with the Bayesian approach in the 11 patients analyzed.
Conclusions: Despite the limits of this preliminary research, the ODP can be useful for clinicians for the preliminary assessment of the olfactory discrimination in patients with DOC.
Keywords: Bayesian approach; disorders of consciousness; neuroimaging; olfactory test; vegetative state.
© 2019 The Authors. Brain and Behavior published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.