Inclusion criteria, exclusion criteria and study summary
Severely altered consciousness most often occurs as a result of brain injury. Some injuries are mild and may causerelatively minor changes in consciousness however a condition may arise where a person is considered to be in avegetative state, where they are "awake" but unaware. Up to 43% of patients with vegetative state diagnosis arereclassified as minimally conscious after further assessment by clinical experts. Many of those in the minimallyconscious state (MCS) and all in vegetative state (VS) are incapable of providing any overt motor responses andtherefore, in some cases, existing consciousness scales are not wholly sufficient for assessment. There is evidencethat a subset of patients with these prolonged disorders of consciousness (DoC) can, modulate their brain activity inresponse to instructions to perform, voluntarily, mental imagery or when attending to stimuli, presented either auditorilyor visually. With these findings we have gathered evidence that electroencephalogram (EEG)-based bedside detectionof awareness is possible using Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) technology. BCI technology can provide an alternativecommunication channel to the physically impaired (PI) which does not depend on neuromuscular control or overtmotor control.Study 1 of the project aims to validate the use of EEG-based BCI technology in assessing patients who are in lowawareness/unresponsive states and assessing the possibility of using the technology to support diagnosis in clinicalpractice. Study 2 of the project aims to apply EEG-based BCI technology with participants who have shown significant brainactivation in study 1 with the aim of determining if some patients might be capable of using a BCI as an alternativecommunication device. Normally BCI technology requires training and feedback over 10+ sessions, each sessionlasting up to 1.5 hours. Study 2 will involve conducting at least 10 sessions with selected participants.