Disorders of Consciousness Program
The TIRR Memorial Hermann Disorders of Consciousness (DoC) Program focuses on patients in a vegetative or minimally conscious state. Although these patients are often not ready to begin a traditional rehabilitation program, they can significantly benefit from a program that specializes in treating disorders of consciousness. The DoC Program applies state-of-the-art advances to assess and treat these patients to help maximize their potential recoveries and outcomes.
Studies have shown that 35 to 40 percent of patients with disorders of consciousness (DoC) are misdiagnosed and undertreated. Frequently thought of as vegetative, many are either conscious or minimally conscious.1
What are disorders of consciousness?
A disorder of consciousness (DoC) is a condition of altered consciousness in which a patient has severely impaired levels of awareness and wakefulness. Examples include patients who are in coma, a vegetative state or a minimally conscious state.
What causes disorders of consciousness?
A DoC is often seen following a severe traumatic brain injury, an anoxic brain injury or stroke.
Who does the DoC Program treat?
The DoC Program treats patients who are still unconscious or have just recovered consciousness. This includes patients who are not yet communicating or following commands, and patients who have just begun to communicate or follow commands but do so inconsistently.
What are the objectives and benefits of the DoC Program?
The TIRR Memorial Hermann team works with patients and their families to:
- Assess the patient’s current level of consciousness
- Evaluate treatable medical or neurological barriers to the recovery of consciousness
- Improve the patient’s level of alertness through medications and other therapeutic interventions
- Identify ways to establish consistent communication
- Initiate an intensive mobility program, beginning with sitting in a wheelchair and progressing to standing
- Address spasticity and contractures to maximize potential for functional recovery
- Utilize recent technological advances, as needed to enhance outcomes
- Prevent secondary complications and reduce the risk of recurrent hospitalizations
- Offer specialized education, training and support for families and caregivers
- Provide opportunities to participate in the latest research on assessing and treating disorders of consciousness
Meet the Team
The DoC Program is supported by an interdisciplinary team of clinicians who specialize in treating this patient population, including:
- Music therapists
- Therapeutic recreation specialists
- Case managers
- Social workers
- Respiratory therapists
- Behavioral Neurology & Neuropsychiatry specialists
John Keller's Miracle in Progress
When 33-year-old John Keller was first admitted to TIRR Memorial Hermann on March 26, 2008, he was in a vegetative state. Two hospitalizations and less than a year later, on January 29, 2009, he left the rehabilitation hospital walking and talking.
Read the Story »
TIRR Memorial Hermann Journal
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1Advancing Best Practices in the Treatment of Patients with Disorders of Consciousness