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Brain Inj. 2009 Feb;23(2):163-6. doi: 10.1080/02699050802660446.

Late recovery from post-traumatic vegetative state.

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  • 1Department of Neurological Sciences, University of Bologna, via Ugo Foscolo, Bologna, Italy.



Late recovery of consciousness after 12 months in vegetative state is very rare and is almost invariably associated with severe disability. The aim of this study was to report that late recovery with moderate disability is possible, even after several months in vegetative state.


This study describes the case of a 22-year-old male student who recovered consciousness from vegetative state 19 months after a traumatic brain injury which had occurred in December 2000. A further slow recovery of motor and cognitive functions up to a moderate disability was observed over 7 years after the brain injury. The patient now lives in the community, speaks, walks and undertakes daily living as well as outdoor leisure activities independently, has resumed his previous university studies and has a part-time non-competitive job.


This case demonstrates that attaining a condition of independent living is possible even after more than 1 year of post-traumatic vegetative state, with an improvement of motor and cognitive functions that can continue for years. Cranioplasty and long-term rehabilitation programmes may be among the variables potentially influencing this unexpected recovery.

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