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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 57-79

A scoping review of treatments for the vegetative and minimally conscious states

School of Nursing, MGH Institute of Health Professions, Boston, MA, USA

Correspondence Address:
John Wong
School of Nursing, MGH Institute of Health Professions, Boston, MA
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2773-2398.348252

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Disorders of consciousness (DoC) including the vegetative state, now known as unresponsive wakefulness syndrome, and the minimally conscious state lead to profound disability among affected individuals while placing a major burden on health care facilities, the economy, and society. Efficacious treatment strategies are necessary to alleviate these strains, but standardized, evidence-based protocols for the treatment of DoC are lacking. Progress towards this end remains difficult when considering the current dearth of comprehensive scoping review articles to organize and present the existing literature. The present scoping review seeks to fill this gap while presenting an up-to-date comprehensive compilation of current treatment strategies and their efficacy for vegetative state/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome, and minimally conscious state. To accomplish this, an examination of the existing literature between 2011 and 2021 was conducted using the PubMed database to compile and present current treatment strategies and their efficacy amongst patients in vegetative state/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome and minimally conscious state. Of the 112 articles collected, 32 reported successful treatment, 69 reported some incremental benefits of treatment, and 11 identified no benefit of treatment. Overall, sensory stimulation, transcranial direct current stimulation, transcranial magnetic stimulation, spinal cord stimulation, vagus nerve stimulation, rehabilitation programs, cranioplasty, and pharmacological treatments with zolpidem, amantadine, baclofen, midazolam, and clonazepam dose reduction coupled with neurorehabilitation were associated with successful treatment of DoC. Given the personal, societal, and economic burden associated with DoC, further research is warranted to determine and protocolize evidence-based strategies for effective treatment of those with DoC.

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