How We Treat Disorders of Consciousness
The Responsiveness Program is an acute inpatient rehabilitation program tailored to the needs of individuals with disorders of consciousness. Sometimes referred to as being in a "vegetative state", people with disorders of consciousness have a limited ability to communicate or participate in traditional rehabilitation therapies as a result of severe brain injury. A team including physiatrists, therapists, nurses, neuropsychologists and research scientists work with patients to achieve the following goals:
- Accurately determine the current state of consciousness of a patient using standardized and individually-tailored evidence-based assessment tools;
- Optimize medical and physical management to minimize complications and maximize improvement in consciousness and function;
- Educate and counsel caregivers on matters of prognosis and medical decision making;
- For those with limited recovery, help prepare for the next level of care by:
- Establishing ongoing monitoring mechanisms so that future improvements can be detected and used to update treatment goals;
- Streamlining the patient’s care plan to reduce the burden on family or institutional caregivers.
The total length of inpatient rehabilitation depends on the extent and pace of recovery and ultimate discharge destination. Patients who make more rapid improvements may transition to working toward greater functional independence, while caregiver training and plans for future reevaluation are offered to those with more limited early progress. Care throughout the patient’s stay is provided by a multidisciplinary treatment team of skilled rehabilitation professionals with focused experience in rehabilitation care for patients with disorders of consciousness (DOC).
The Responsiveness Program was founded by John Whyte, MD, PhD, who also co-founded Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute (MRRI). Dr. Whyte is an internationally recognized expert on disorders of consciousness, having participated in the definition of the Minimally Conscious State (MCS), developed new and improved assessment tools for DOCs, and led or co-led some of the most rigorous treatment studies conducted on this condition, including the first international clinical trial of a drug (Ambien) that can accelerate recovery of consciousness, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
For more information or to make a referral, call 215-663-6636.
The Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC) is a organization, which works closely with the Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems (TBIMS) who collect and translate educational information about TBI, including disorders of consciousness. They created a number of factsheets to help patients and their families learn new skills and best practices for returning to everyday life after leaving an inpatient rehabilitation setting.
Learn more about MSKTC's Traumatic Brain Injury Factsheets