Current controversies in states of chronic unconsciousness

Coma resulting from brain injury or illness usually is a transient state. Within a few weeks, patients in coma either recover awareness, die, or evolve to an eyes-open state of impaired responsiveness such as the vegetative or minimally conscious state. These disorders of consciousness can be transient stages during spontaneous recovery from coma or can become chronic, static conditions. Recent fMRI studies raise questions about the accuracy of accepted clinical diagnostic criteria and prognostic models of these disorders that have far-reaching medical practice and ethical implications (Full text).

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