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Symptomatic treatment of unresponsive wakefulness syndrome with transcranially focused extracorporeal shock waves

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Can stimulation of nerve growth factors by focused transcranial extracorporeal shock wave therapy (TESWT) be made effective for persons within unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (apallic syndrome)? DESIGN: Between eight and 18 years after the brain lesion, five patients with unresponsive wakefulness syndrome of differing severity received TESWT with the device Duolith (Storz Medical) during four-week physicomedical complex therapies. In the previous years they had been treated with the same complex therapies without TESWT. The vigilance did not change. RESULTS: After two-four years and an average of 5.2 treatment series, the patients' abilities improved by 135.9% on the German Coma Remission Scale (KRS) and by 43.6% on the Glasgow Coma Scale. In the motor area of the KRS, the patients improved by 64.3%. Three PEG feeding tubes could be removed, nonverbal communication initiated four times. CONCLUSION: In this longitudinal observation study, focused TESWT stimulated vigilance in patients with unresponsive wakefulness syndrome. The precise neurophysiological effects remain to be verified by a study of the clinical results.