Disorders of consciousness terminology: history, evolution and future directions

Nathan D. Zasler, Marta Aloisi, Marianna Contrada, Rita Formisano

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


There has been a significant evolution of nomenclature with regards to classification of persons with disorders of consciousness (DoC) over the last 100 years. This paper provides a review of the evolution of this terminology with discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of historical and current terms. Recommendations for how this evolution should continue moving forward in the best interest of patients, their families, society, clinical care, and research will also be addressed. The taxonomy we choose, hopefully by international consensus, has multifaceted implications that go well beyond just a debate on nomenclature.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain Injury
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019


  • coma
  • Disorders of consciousness
  • locked-in syndrome
  • minimally conscious state
  • nomenclature
  • taxonomy
  • unresponsive wakefulness syndrome
  • vegetative state

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Neurology


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