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Sergio Bagnato1,2, Cristina Boccagni1,2, Antonino Sant’Angelo1,2, Caterina Prestandrea2, Marcello C. Romano3, and Giuseppe Galardi1,2.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the presence of neuromuscular involvement in patients in vegetative and minimally conscious states (VS, MCS) following acute brain injury. Twenty-two patients (11 in VS, 11 in MCS) admitted to a rehabilitation department underwent nerve conduction, electromyography (EMG) for spontaneous activity and direct muscle stimulation (DMS). Twenty (90.9%) showed abnormal nerve conduction studies, 19 (86.4%) had spontaneous EMG activity, and 7 (31.8%) had abnormal DMS. The time spent in the intensive care unit correlated significantly with the amplitude of the compound muscle action potential of the ulnar nerve and with the amplitude of the sensory nerve action potential of the sural nerve (p < 0.05). No significant differences were found between patients in VS and MCS. Neurophysiological data indicative of neuromuscular involvement are common in patients in VS and MCS. This study underlines the need to implement strategies to prevent and to treat neuromuscular complications in patients in VS and MCS.
Key words: direct muscle stimulation, minimally conscious state, myopathy, neuropathy, vegetative state