Advances in health care prolong the lives of severely impaired adults with head injury, allowing improvement long after injury. A subset of these patients, designated slow-to-recover (STR) patients, remains minimally or inconsistently responsive to stimuli for months after injury but eventually improves. Little is known about the recovery process of these patients. Results of this study indicated that 55 (47%) of a group of 116 STR patients reached rehabilitation-ready (RR) status at 3 to 48 months after injury; 37 (67%) were RR at 6 months. Two improvement patterns were identified: continuous and abrupt. Visual tracking performance at initial assessment predicted eventual RR status; auditory comprehension performance predicted speed of improvement.
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