Diagnostic screening for conscious awareness in brain injury and disease: Visual component

Since the mid 1970s, medical personnel have used the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) as an important tool to rate and describe levels of consciousness. This scale is rudimentary and subjective, often resulting in misdiagnoses in cases where people lack the capacity to communicate. In some unfortunate situations, severe neurological damage can render people unable to move. Inevitably, these people are deemed vegetative when in actuality; many are simply ‘locked in’. For years researchers have used cognitive event related potentials (ERPs) with modified EEG to assess receptive language capacity. However, the testing is typically laborious and clinicians are not able to access it in order to assess their clients; which eliminates the technology’s utility to working professionals. Acknowledging this, a research team out of Halifax lead by neuroscientist, Dr. Ryan D’Arcy developed the Halifax Consciousness Scanner (HCS). The HCS is a portable, easy to operate modified EEG/ERP system complete with a specially designed 5 minute protocol which can be implemented in almost any setting. It is anticipated that the HCS will improve our ability to objectively evaluate conscious awareness following brain injury/stroke in emergency rooms, evaluate candidacy for rehabilitation, measure outcomes of intervention when subtle progress is not_yet_outwardly_observable,_and_identify_those_patients_who_are_trapped_in_their_bodies_so_we_can_intervene.

Carolyn Fleck-Prediger
Faculty Supervisor: 
Bruce Dick