Virtual reality based cognitive rehabilitation in minimally conscious state: A case report with EEG findings and systematic literature review

Maria Grazia Maggio, Antonino Naro, Gianluca La Rosa, Alice Cambria, Paola Lauria, Luana Billeri, Desiree Latella, Alfredo Manuli, Rocco Salvatore Calabrò

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Chronic disorders of consciousness cause a total or partial and fluctuating unawareness of the surrounding environment. Virtual reality (VR) can be useful as a diagnostic and/or a neurorehabilitation tool, and its effects can be monitored by means of both clinical and electroencephalography (EEG) data recording of brain activity. We reported on the case of a 17-year-old patient with a disorder of consciousness (DoC) who was provided with VR training to improve her cognitive-behavioral outcomes, which were assessed using clinical scales (the Coma Recovery Scale-Revised, the Disability Rating Scale, and the Rancho Los Amigos Levels of Cognitive Functioning), as well as EEG recording, during VR training sessions. At the end of the training, significant improvements in both clinical and neurophysiological outcomes were achieved. Then, we carried out a systematic review of the literature to investigate the role of EEG and VR in the management of patients with DoC. A search on PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar databases was performed, using the keywords: “disorders of consciousness” and “virtual reality”, or “EEG”. The results of the literature review suggest that neurophysiological data in combination with VR could be useful in evaluating the reactions induced by different paradigms in DoC patients, helping in the differential diagnosis. In conclusion, the EEG plus VR approach used with our patient could be promising to define the most appropriate stimulation protocol, so as to promote a better personalization of the rehabilitation program. However, further clinical trials, as well as meta-analysis of the literature, are needed to be affirmative on the role of VR in patients with DoC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number414
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Bts nirvana
  • Disorders of consciousness
  • EEG
  • Minimally conscious state
  • Unresponsive wakefulness syndrome
  • Virtual reality training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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