Cortical function in acute severe traumatic brain injury and at recovery: A longitudinal fMRI case study
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Differences in the functional integrity of the brain from acute severe brain injury to subsequent recovery of consciousness have not been well documented. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) may elucidate this issue as it allows for the objective measurement of brain function both at rest and in response to stimuli. Here, we report the cortical function of a patient with a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a critically ill state and at subsequent functional recovery 9-months post injury. A series of fMRI paradigms were employed to assess sound and speech perception, command following, and resting state connectivity. The patient retained sound perception and speech perception acutely, as indexed by his fMRI responses. Command following was absent acutely, but was present at recovery. Increases in functional connectivity across multiple resting state networks were observed at recovery. We demonstrate the clinical utility of fMRI in assessing cortical function in a patient with severe TBI. We suggest that hallmarks of the recovery of consciousness are associated with neural activity to higher-order cognitive tasks and increased resting state connectivity.