ACRM endorsed position statement| Volume 101, ISSUE 6, P1072-1089, June 2020

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Minimum Competency Recommendations for Programs That Provide Rehabilitation Services for Persons With Disorders of Consciousness: A Position Statement of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine and the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems

Published:February 20, 2020DOI:


      Persons who have disorders of consciousness (DoC) require care from multidisciplinary teams with specialized training and expertise in management of the complex needs of this clinical population. The recent promulgation of practice guidelines for patients with prolonged DoC by the American Academy of Neurology, American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM), and National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) represents a major advance in the development of care standards in this area of brain injury rehabilitation. Implementation of these practice guidelines requires explication of the minimum competencies of clinical programs providing services to persons who have DoC. The Brain Injury Interdisciplinary Special Interest Group of the ACRM, in collaboration with the Disorders of Consciousness Special Interest Group of the NIDILRR-Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems convened a multidisciplinary panel of experts to address this need through the present position statement. Content area-specific workgroups reviewed relevant peer-reviewed literature and drafted recommendations which were then evaluated by the expert panel using a modified Delphi voting process. The process yielded 21 recommendations on the structure and process of essential services required for effective DoC-focused rehabilitation, organized into 4 categories: diagnostic and prognostic assessment (4 recommendations), treatment (11 recommendations), transitioning care/long-term care needs (5 recommendations), and management of ethical issues (1 recommendation). With few exceptions, these recommendations focus on infrastructure requirements and operating procedures for the provision of DoC-focused neurorehabilitation services across subacute and postacute settings.


      List of abbreviations:

      AAN (American Academy of Neurology), CT (computed tomography), DoC (disorders of consciousness), DNR (do not resuscitate), IRF (inpatient rehabilitation facility), MCS (minimally conscious state), MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), NIDILRR (National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research), PAC (postacute care), QI (quality improvement), SNF (skilled nursing facility), VS (vegetative state), UWS (unresponsive wakefulness syndrome)
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