The Minimal Competency Guidelines for Rehabilitation of Persons with Disorders of Consciousness


Organized by the Disorders of Consciousness Special Interest Group (DOC-SIG)

A growing international literature has demonstrated optimistic outcomes of survival and steady functional recovery for brain injury survivors with disorders of consciousness (DOC). As the evidence for positive outcomes grows in the scientific literature, the need for increasing workforce capacity in the overall management of DOC populations is increasing. Rehabilitation experts representing the ACRM, VA, and NIDRR TBI Model Systems have developed minimal competency guidelines for the rehabilitation of persons with DOC yet educational opportunities exist primarily within formal fellowship training not available to professional audiences. Further, clinicians building skills in DOC management must learn to apply published guidelines and group data to individual cases which may be challenging. Therefore the purpose of this course is to provide beginner and intermediate content in the assessment, treatment, and ethical management of individual patients with severe brain injury. Content areas include: a) accurate diagnosis, b) empirically-determined prognosis, c) unique medical management, d) rehabilitation treatment content and outcome monitoring, e) caregiver education and training, f) development of long-term care plans, and g) policy planning for common ethical issues. Within each content area, implications of the standards will be discussed in detail for the individual clinician and rehabilitation program. Specific content will address each of the 21 minimal competency recommendations for providing rehabilitation care for persons with disorders of consciousness. The course presenters represent various specialties engaged in DOC rehabilitation and engaged in development of the standards presented.


  • Discuss the current state of the science for rehabilitation potential of persons with DOC.
  • List at least three content domains for the minimal competency standards for persons with DOC.
  • Discuss examples of how each standard can be implemented in acute rehabilitation settings.

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