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Functional Neurology

Epidemiological and clinical characteristics of 492 patients in a vegetative state in 29 Italian rehabilitation units. What about outcome?

Original Article, 97 - 103
doi: 10.11138/FNeur/2018.33.2.097
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Abstract
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Recent studies on recovery of consciousness of subjects in a vegetative state (VS) admitted to rehabilitation units have focused mainly on the identification of prognostic factors, whereas few studies have focused on outcome.
The aim of this study was to compare demographic and clinical data and report functional outcome of patients in a VS due to severe acquired brain injury (ABI) of different aetiologies.
The study was a retrospective multicentre cohort study and involved 492 patients in a VS due to traumatic (TBI) or non-traumatic (NTBI) severe ABI admitted to 29 Italian rehabilitation units. Demographic and clinical data recorded included age, gender, aetiology, Glasgow Coma Scale score; onset-to-admission interval; length of stay in the rehabilitation unit; the department from which they were referred; and the presence of percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy or tracheostomy. Recovery of consciousness and disability were evaluated using a discharge Disability Rating Scale.
At discharge, 53.11% patients had emerged from VS, with TBI subjects significantly more likely to recover consciousness than NTBI ones. Subjects with NTBI had a significantly worse prognosis than those with TBI, and within the NTBI group, subjects with a cerebrovascular aetiology had a better outcome than those with an anoxic aetiology. Among the patients who emerged from VS, 71.30% of TBI and 83.06% of NTBI subjects presented extremely severe disability.
Only 37.93% of subjects affected by TBI and 17.44% of those affected by NTBI who presented extremely severe disability returned home after their rehabilitation stay.
Even though almost a half of the patients emerged from VS, a large number of these subjects showed severe disability, often making it impossible for them to return home. This situation has a major impact on the healthcare system.

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