coma, habituation, neuronal reorganization, reticular activating system (RAS), sensory regulation, structured coma stimulation, vigilance



  1. Gerber, Carolyn S. BSN, RN


The incidence of people surviving with traumatic brain injury is rising at a remarkable pace. Unfortunately, patients also experience some form of coma and significant deficits (ie, cognitive, functional, etc). The focus is shifting from saving these patients to trying to figure out what else can be done for them? In the past, patients were medically maintained, stabilized, and then sent to rehabilitation centers for coma stimulation, in the hope of waking up their reticular activating system. Today, healthcare professionals are being encouraged to research and explore the possibility of implementing structured coma stimulation programs as early as 72 hours postinjury in the intensive care unit. Starting early is of paramount importance to a patient's survival, quality of life, and overall long-term prognosis. The goal of this article is to educate healthcare professionals (in the hospital setting) about managing and implementing structured sensory stimulation sessions.