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Disorders of Consciousness Task Force



To advance scientific knowledge, develop standards of practice, and advocate for the appropriate care of persons with disordered consciousness. Projects developed fall under the umbrellas of clinical, research, advocacy, and education about this patient group.



Risa Nakase-Richardson, PhD, FACRM

Risa Nakase-Richardson, PhD, FACRM


Clinical Neuropsychologist
James A. Haley VA Hospital

Yelena G. Bodien, PhD

Yelena G. Bodien, PhD


Research Scientist, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Associate Director, Laboratory for Neuroimaging of Coma and Consciousness (NICC)
Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School


John Whyte, MD, PhD, FACRM

John Whyte, MD, PhD, FACRM


Institute Scientist Emeritus
Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute


NIDILRR, the VA TBI Model System DOC Special Interest Group members, and the International Brain Injury Association (IBIA) collaborate on task force projects and monthly telephone calls.


2022 GOALS

  • Develop proposal to increase consumer engagement in DoC research translation
  • Launch “Challenging Behaviors in Brain Injury” survey
  • Complete scoping review on “Pathophysiology of the Post-traumatic Confusional State”


  • Proposed partnership between ACRM and Brainline to house educational materials for families; received BI-ISIG grant for consumer review process
  • Initiated collaboration with the Curing Coma Campaign to ensure rehabilitation perspectives are considered in the design of acute DoC studies
  • Published Recovery of Consciousness and Functional Outcome in Moderate and Severe Traumatic Brain Injury in JAMA Neurology (Kowalski, et al)


Co-chairs, Risa Nakase Richardson and Yelena Bodien, are leading a team of DOC Task Force participants who contribute to multiple projects and present at various conferences throughout the year. Here are some of the upcoming highlights of their work.


In-Progress Projects

  • A scoping review of the pathophysiology of the post-traumatic confusional state, led by Drs. Doug Katz, Mark Sherer and Yelena Bodien, is in the abstract review phase.
  • A survey about clinical management of challenging behaviors after TBI, led by Dr. Tracy Kretzmer is under development and will be distributed in Fall 2021.
  • Drs. Amy Rosenbaum, Susan Johnson and Brooke Murtaugh are leading an effort to provide a centralized, online location for patients and family DoC educational materials.
  • Partnership with the American College of Surgeons to promote access to rehabilitation involving many task force members and other ACRM communities.


MSKTC Fact Sheet

The Facts About the Vegetative and Minimally Conscious States After Severe Brain Injury MSKTC Fact Sheet was updated in 2020 by John Whyte, MD, David Glazer, MD, Thomas Watanabe, MD, Joseph Giacino, PhD, and Amy Rosenbaum, PhD, in collaboration with the American Institutes for Research MSKTC.

An MSKTC Fact Sheet was developed by ACRM and TBIMS joint DOC members (led by Dr. Amy Rosenbaum) and is now available online (Severe Traumatic Brain Injury: What to Expect in the Trauma Center, Hospital, and Beyond).

An MSKTC Fact Sheet was developed by ACRM and TBIMS joint DOC members on Understanding Behavior Changes After TBI and is now available online (Understanding Behavior Changes after TBI | Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC)).


Recent & Upcoming Presentations of DOC Task Force Members

  • American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation – Members of the DOC Task Force led instructional courses and presented multiple posters at the ACRM 2021 VIRTUAL Annual Conference.
  • International Brain Injury Association of America – The DoC Clinical Management Guidelines, developed by Dr. Joe Giacino and other members of the DoC Task Force, were presented alongside recently published European and UK guidelines.
  • North American Brain Injury Society Annual Conference –  DoC Task Force members will be conducting a pre-conference DoC course in 2022.