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Although the majority of patients recover consciousness after a traumatic brain injury (TBI), a minority develop a prolonged disorder of consciousness, which may never fully resolve. For these patients, accurate prognostication is essential to treatment decisions and long-term care planning. In this review, we evaluate the use of resting-state electroencephalography (EEG) as a prognostic measure in disorders of consciousness following TBI. We highlight that routine clinical EEG recordings have prognostic utility in the short to medium term. In particular, measures of alpha power and variability are indicative of relatively better functional outcomes within the first year post-TBI. This is hypothesized to reflect intact thalamocortical loops, and thus the potential for recovery of consciousness even in the apparent absence of current consciousness. However, there is a lack of research into the use of resting-state EEG for predicting longer-term recovery following TBI. We conclude that, given the potential for patients to demonstrate improvements in consciousness and functional capacity even years after TBI, a research focus on EEG-augmented prognostication in very long-term disorders of consciousness is now required.
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