Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Can non-invasive electrical stimulation of brain help patients regain state of consciousness after coma?

Date:
February 26, 2014
Source:
University of Liège
Summary:
Researchers have shown that transcranial direct-current stimulation allows patients in a minimally conscious state to recover cognitive and motor skills. This simple, safe and relatively low-cost technique could offer clinicians a new way to help these patients recover, even several years after their coma. However, the positive effects appear to be temporary at this stage of research.

The transcranial direct-current stimulation technique used in this study involves placing two electrodes on the patient’s head: one on the left front side (red) and one on the right side on the temple (black). The electric field induced in the grey matter is shown in yellow. This electrical stimulation helps improve the level of consciousness in some post-coma patients.
Credit: © Coma Science Group ULg/CHU

Researchers have shown that transcranial direct-current stimulation allows patients in a minimally conscious state to recover cognitive and motor skills. This simple, safe and relatively low-cost technique could offer clinicians a new way to help these patients recover, even several years after their coma. However, the positive effects appear to be temporary at this stage of research.

It would appear that a brain stimulation technique, transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS), can help improve clinical responses in patients who have been in a minimally conscious state for several weeks or years, according to research published in the February 26, 2014, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. This very simple system is described by Belgian researchers from the Coma Science Group at the University of Liège, led by Steven Laureys (Director of Research, FNRS, Cyclotron Research Centre and Neurology Department, University Hospital of Liège), including the PhD student Aurore Thibaut, physiotherapist and first author of this study.

The interest of tDCS has already been reported in previous studies as improving attention span, working memory and language functions.  Consequently, the researchers wanted to study the benefits of tDCS in severely brain-damaged patients with a disorder of consciousness after a traumatic brain injury or cardiac arrest.

Twenty-minute stimulations were carried out on 55 patients, half of whom were patients in a minimally conscious state. A clinical improvement was reported in 43% of patients in a minimally conscious state. “These results are all the more impressive because they can occur in chronic patients, i.e. years after their accident, when their state is often considered as no longer being able to evolve. On the contrary, our study shows that the state of consciousness in severely brain-damaged patients can improve following short cortical stimulation. However, this improvement is only temporary and patients return to their initial state after several hours”, Aurore Thibaut explains. The researchers are now working on the effect of long-term stimulations to prolong and maintain the benefits of these electrical stimulations on the brain.

For Professor Steven Laureys: “The ease of use and the low cost of this new technique make it a good candidate for rehabilitation in daily clinical practice in order to stimulate the recovery of patients who survive a coma. But also in the chronic stage to improve the evolution in patients in a minimally conscious state.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Liège. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. Thibaut, M.-A. Bruno, D. Ledoux, A. Demertzi, S. Laureys. tDCS in patients with disorders of consciousness: Sham-controlled randomized double-blind study. Neurology, 2014; DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000000260

Cite This Page:

University of Liège. "Can non-invasive electrical stimulation of brain help patients regain state of consciousness after coma?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140226165154.htm>.
University of Liège. (2014, February 26). Can non-invasive electrical stimulation of brain help patients regain state of consciousness after coma?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140226165154.htm
University of Liège. "Can non-invasive electrical stimulation of brain help patients regain state of consciousness after coma?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140226165154.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) — Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) — Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) — At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) — The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:  

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile iPhone Android Web
      Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins