Hidden consciousness occurs in 15% to 25% of brain injury patients from head trauma, brain hemorrhage, or cardiac arrest.
Columbia researchers have made a significant discovery in understanding hidden consciousness, or cognitive motor dissociation (CMD), in brain injury patients. This condition, affecting 15% to 25% of such patients, has puzzled medical professionals as patients appear unconscious but retain some awareness. The study’s findings could revolutionize the way physicians identify and predict recovery in brain-injured patients, offering insights into the specific brain circuits that are disrupted.
- The study used EEG and a technique called bi-clustering analysis to examine 107 brain injury patients, detecting CMD in 21 of them.
- All CMD patients had intact brain structures for arousal and command comprehension but deficits in regions responsible for integrating motor commands with output.
- The findings may lead to screening for hidden consciousness using widely available structural brain imaging.
- Previous research by the same team found that subtle brainwaves detectable with EEG are strong predictors of hidden consciousness and recovery.
- More research is needed before these approaches can be applied to clinical practice.
- MRI may offer a simpler way to identify patients requiring further screening and diagnosis.
- This groundbreaking study has identified the specific brain injuries underlying hidden consciousness, paving the way for better identification, prediction of recovery, and potential clinical applications for brain-injured patients.