tDCS allows patients to regain cognitive skills after coma
Researchers have shown that transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) allows patients in a minimally conscious state to recover cognitive and motor skills. This simple, safe and relatively low-cost technique could offer clinicians a new way to help these patients recover, even several years after their coma. However, the positive effects appear to be temporary at this stage of research.
Twenty-minute stimulations were carried out on 55 patients, half of whom were patients in a minimally conscious state. A clinical improvement was reported in 43% of patients in a minimally conscious state. “These results are all the more impressive because they can occur in chronic patients, i.e. years after their accident, when their state is often considered as no longer being able to evolve. On the contrary, our study shows that the state of consciousness in severely brain-damaged patients can improve following short cortical stimulation. However, this improvement is only temporary and patients return to their initial state after several hours”, Aurore Thibaut explains. The researchers are now working on the effect of long-term stimulations to prolong and maintain the benefits of these electrical stimulations on the brain.