Explore This Treatment Program

Our Mission

The Emerging Consciousness Program (ECP) at Massachusetts General Hospital provides specialized clinical expertise to improve the care of patients with impaired levels of consciousness after brain injury. Our work is informed by state-of-the-art clinical neuroscience and aligned with the latest national and international clinical guidelines. We collaborate closely with the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Disorders of Consciousness Program and other departments and institutions to advance the care of patients with disorders of consciousness.

19-year-old Dylan Rizzo suffered devastating head trauma in a car crash, but recovered remarkably well.

Covert Consciousness

In some cases, patients are “covertly conscious" – capable of understanding, but unable to respond. To detect covert consciousness, we can perform advanced functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG). To do this, we place ear buds in your loved one’s ears and ask them to imagine performing a task, like opening and closing the right hand. We also play audio clips and look for responses in the language regions of the brain, which could suggest that the regions of the brain responsible for processing language are functioning. Patients whose brains respond to these stimuli may have better treatment outcomes than others.

TeleConsciousness and Second Opinion Service

We are pleased to be able to offer a second opinion service. Through this service, a doctor with specialized expertise in caring for patients with disorders of consciousness can obtain information from your loved one’s primary care provider, medical records and information provided by caregivers to evaluate the patient's condition and suggest treatment options.

About the TeleConsciousness Service

Future Plans

Future components of the MGH Emerging Consciousness Program may include:

  • Synchronous (real-time) TeleNeurology evaluations for patients with disorders of consciousness
  • Facilitated referrals to PT, OT, SLP, psychology, ethics, social work and chaplaincy with specialized experience in disorders of consciousness/brain injury
  • Consciousness Monitoring Unit (CMU) Elective Hospital Admission, a 1-2 day inpatient admission for advanced EEG, fMRI, neurostimulant trial, and, with consent, consideration of clinical trial enrolment.
  • Patient and family support groups
  • Disorders of consciousness/brain injury educational programs
  • Disorders of consciousness/brain injury advocacy assistance
  • Expanded partnerships with allied institutions

Our Team

The ECP team is a dedicated group of physicians, researchers, nurses and support staff specialized in understanding and helping patients recover from disorders of consciousness. All ECP team members are part of the Mass General Center for Neurotechnology and Neurorecovery.