Research Reports - Nerve electrical stimulation for acute traumatic coma patients

J Neurotrauma. 2015 May 7

Lei J(1), Wang L, Gao G, Cooper E, Jiang J

The right median nerve as a peripheral portal to the central nervous system can
be electrically stimulated to help coma arousal after traumatic brain injury
(TBI). The present study set out to examine the efficacy and safety of right
median nerve electrical stimulation (RMNS) in a cohort of 437 comatose patients
after severe TBI from August 2005 to December 2011. The patients were enrolled 2
weeks after their injury and assigned to the RMNS group (n=221) receiving
electrical stimulation for 2 weeks or the control group (n=216) treated by
standard management according to the date of birth in the month. The baseline
data were similar. After the 2-week treatment, the RMNS-treated patients
demonstrated a more rapid increase of the mean Glasgow Coma Score, although
statistical significance was not reached (8.43±4.98 vs. 7.47±5.37, p=0.0532). The
follow-up data at 6-month post-injury showed a significantly higher proportion of
patients who regained consciousness (59.8% vs. 46.2%, p=0.0073). There was a
lower proportion of vegetative persons in the RMNS group than in the control
group (17.6% vs. 22.0%, p=0.0012). For persons regaining consciousness, the
functional independence measurement (FIM) score was higher among the RMNS group
patients (91.45±8.65 vs. 76.23±11.02, p<0.001). There were no unique
complications associated with the RMNS treatment. The current study, although
with some limitations, showed that RMNS may serve as an easy, effective, and
noninvasive technique to promote the recovery of traumatic coma in the early
phase.

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