£750,000 grant to investigate post-traumatic coma

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Dr Damian Cruse has been awarded a Medical Research Council New Investigator Grant of £750,000 to investigate consciousness and cognition in acute post-traumatic coma, and explore more accurate markers of diagnosis as well as potential for recovery.

Titled: "The prognostic and diagnostic utility of electrophysiological markers of speech processing in post-traumatic coma and prolonged disorders of consciousness”, the three-year project will be undertaken in collaboration with University Hospitals Birmingham. It will investigate a hierarchy of brain markers of residual consciousness and cognition in acute post-traumatic coma (i.e. approximately one week after a severe brain injury), and subsequently follow these patients through the evolution of their condition in order to investigate more accurate markers of diagnosis and potential for recovery.

The more accurate methods of prognosis that come from this research will result in more appropriate provision of limited rehabilitation resources post-coma, thereby reducing healthcare costs. The more accurate methods of diagnosis that come from this research will ensure that no aware patient is misdiagnosed as unaware, thereby profoundly influencing the lives of patients and their families/caregivers.

From a scientific perspective, this research will contribute to our understanding of how the meaning of speech is represented in our brains, and the ways in which the human brain supports consciousness.