Effect of Rehabilitation Treatments on Disability in Persons With Disorders of Consciousness: A Propensity Score Study

Davide Sattin, Matilde Leonardi, Barbara Nelli, Placido Bramanti, Silvia Marino, Salvatore Ferro, Nino Basaglia, Davide Guido, Sandra Strazzer, Antonio Trabacca, Leonarda Gennaro, Andrea Martinuzzi, Mara Buffoni, Consortium on Functioning and Disability in Patients With DOC

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To evaluate the effects of rehabilitation (physical and cognitive) treatments on the diagnosis severity and Disability Rating Scale (DRS) scores, adjusted for a number of potential confounders measured at baseline, in a large cohort of patients with disorders of consciousness across time. Design and Setting: An observational, longitudinal (2 evaluations), multicenter project was made in 90 Italian centers. Participants: Patients (N=364) with a diagnosis of disorders of consciousness. Main Outcome Measures: Primary outcome was the severity of diagnosis, expressed on an ordinal scale (Other<MCS<VS<death). In the Other group were included patients who emerged from an MCS and recovered consciousness. The secondary outcome was the DRS score (range of 0-30 with 30 being the worst value). The DRS is a tool used to define the level of residual disability, commonly used to classify the level of functional impairment in patients with acquired brain injury. Both outcomes were measured for each wave. Results: A total of 364 subjects having a complete set of demographic, clinical, and pharmacologic data were included in the propensity score (PS) analysis. Results showed that the rehabilitation treatments (physical and cognitive) reduced the clinical worsening over time in both severity diagnosis and DRS (around 6.5 points) in patients with disorders of consciousness across different propensity score strategies (ie, PS matching, PS adjustment, and PS-weighted procedures). In addition, cognitive protocols seem to be limited to patients with a median value of DRS=23. Conclusions: Our propensity score analysis suggests that rehabilitation treatment protocols seem effective and should be applied to a broader spectrum of patients with disorders of consciousness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-105
Number of pages11
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number101
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Propensity score
  • Rehabilitation
  • Vegetative state

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation

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