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Combining HD-tDCS with music stimulation for patients with prolonged disorders of consciousness: Study protocol for an RCT trial.

NeuroRehabilitation 2024 March 3
BACKGROUND: Patients with prolonged disorders of consciousness (pDOC) pose significant challenges to healthcare workers due to their severe motor impairments and limited interaction with the environment. Non-invasive brain stimulation such as high-definition transcranial direct current stimulation (HD-tDCS) and music stimulation show promise in awakening this population.

OBJECTIVE: In this study, we present a protocol aiming at investigating the efficacy of combined HD-tDCS and music stimulation in awakening patients with pDOC through a single-blind, randomized controlled trial.

METHODS: Ninety patients with pDOC will be randomly divided into three groups: active HD-tDCS with music stimulation, active HD-tDCS, and sham HD-tDCS. All participants will receive 20 treatment sessions over a period of 10 days and the Coma Recovery Scale-Revised, Glasgow Outcome Scale and electroencephalogram will be used as assessment measures to evaluate their level of consciousness throughout the study. Adverse events and complications will be recorded during treatment. Within-group pre-post comparisons and between-group efficacy comparisons will be conducted to identify the most effective intervention approach. Statistical analysis will be performed using SPSS software with a significance level set at P <  0.05.

CONCLUSION: The pursuit of awakening therapy for patients with pDOC remains a clinical research challenge. This study protocol is designed with the aim of introducing an innovative non-pharmacological approach which combined HD-tDCS and music stimulation to facilitate the reinstatement of consciousness in patients with pDOC.

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