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Novel sensory paradigms for neuromodulation in disorders of consciousness in traumatic brain injury

Padua, Lucaa,b; Cuccagna, Cristinaa; Pazzaglia, Costanzaa

doi: 10.1097/WCO.0000000000000747
TRAUMA AND REHABILITATION: Edited by Rajiv R. Ratan and Yutaka Yoshida

Purpose of review Traumatic brain injury (TBI) represents a major cause of mortality and disability worldwide. In cases of severe TBI, disorders of consciousness (DoC) can occur and therapeutic options for these conditions are few and of limited efficacy. Sensory stimulation, an instrument to improve arousal and awareness, is frequently applied in the neurorehabilitation of DoC, but scientific evidence supporting its efficacy is limited. Our aim is to review the recent literature concerning novel sensory paradigms used in sensory stimulation protocols in DoC following TBI.

Recent findings Recent studies on sensory stimulation have investigated different types of stimulation protocols, focusing on the issue of how to demonstrate that improvements are related to the treatment applied and not to spontaneous recovery. Moreover, these studies have also shown that paraclinical tests should be useful not only to discover signs of awareness when behavioural assessment fails to do so, but also to measure the effects of sensory stimulation.

Summary Future studies about novel types of sensory stimulation, whose effects should be possibly measured through paraclinical approaches, are recommended in order to increase the probability that the proper individualized stimulation is administered for each patient.

aFondazione Policlinico Universitario A. Gemelli IRCCS, Rome, Italy

bUniversità Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy

Correspondence to Costanza Pazzaglia, MD, PhD, Fondazione Policlinico Universitario A. Gemelli IRCCS, L.go A. Gemelli 8, 00168 Rome, Italy. Tel: +39 630156623; fax: +39 635501909; e-mail:

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