When a severe traumatic brain injury results in a disorder of consciousness, such as a vegetative or minimally conscious state, one question that families and clinicians want to know is-is there brain activity? Brain activity can predict coma outcome, and can be an important tool for rehabilitation planning.
Electroencephalography (EEG) is a widely accepted measure of brain activity. What is more variable is the type of environmental stimulation that can be used to measure EEG activity in coma patients. Robotic gait training is a type of stimulation that requires repetitive exercises. This type of exercise is known to result in brain reorganization, which can produce arousal and brain activity.
A recent study that used EEG to measure brain activity during robotic gait training found that, while healthy patients showed significantly increased activity, coma patients showed no change in activity. The researchers concluded that no increase in brain activity during robotic gait training may indicate a more severe injury and negative outcome.
Lapitskaya N, Nielsen JF, & Fuglsang-Frederiksen A. Robotic gait training in patients with impaired consciousness due to severe traumatic brain injury. Brain Injury. (October 2011)