Since the beginning of her career, Dr. Caroline Schnakers has focused her research on severely brain-injured patients recovering coma and, more particularly, on the detection of conscious cognitive activity using behavioral and electrophysiological techniques. She has shown the difficulty to detect signs of consciousness (40% of error rate) and the difference of sensitivity between existing coma scales to detect these signs. In parallel, She has developed electrophysiological paradigms for detecting conscious cognitive activity without the intervention of motor functions (using mental tasks such as counting) in severely brain – injured patients who are unable to actively interact with their surroundings. She has also developed a testing solely based on ocular responses allowing the assessment of cognitive functions in patients with severe motor dysfunctions (locked – in syndrome; characterized by anarthria, quadriplegia and preserved consciousness). Finally, she has created and validated the first scale allowing pain assessment in patients with disorders of consciousness.
In 2010, she received the Young Investigator Award from the International Brain Injury Association in recognition of her work. She has published around 60 articles (H – index: 30) and she is the editor of a book titled “Coma and Disorders of Consciousness” (Springer – Verlag, Paris, 2011; Springer – Verlag, London, 2012). Until recently, Dr. Schnakers worked with the Coma Science Group. She is now working at the UCLA department of Psychology and Neurosurgery.
In 2008-2009 she was a post-doc at the JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute and the New Jersey Neuroscience Institute, Edison, New Jersey, USA.