Congratulations to Dr. Loretta Norton, Assistant Professor of Psychology, a co-investigator on a project that has received a Project Grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). The study, A point-of-care neurophysiological index of recovery from coma in the intensive care unit, will provide critically-needed support for clinical decision-making.

Dr. Norton says the study has the potential to transform the understanding of the brain mechanisms’ underlying consciousness and cognition by identifying the key networks associated with patients’ recovery.

The study’s goal is to predict outcomes of unresponsive, brain-injured patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) by recording the electrical activity of the brain, termed electroencephalography (EEG). The project team is developing a set of new EEG techniques that can be recorded at the ICU bedside that aims to predict recovery of consciousness and cognition. The study is developing patient-accessible methods of measuring long-term cognitive outcomes in ICU survivors.

Dr. Norton says the study came about because clinical tools currently in use for predicting outcomes do not examine probabilities of a positive outcome, making it difficult to reliably predict the chances of functional recovery. “Our clinical collaborators have identified a critical need to develop techniques that can be used at the bedside to aid in clinical decision-making about treatments of unresponsive brain-injured patients,” says Dr. Norton.

In total, 200 participants will be recruited from London Health Sciences Centre, the McGill University Health Centre, and Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Norton is coordinating the project in London.

Dr. Norton is collaborating with Dr. Stefanie Blain-Maraes and Dr. Catherine Duclos of McGill University, Dr. Brian Eldow of Massachusetts General Hospital, and Dr. Adrian Owen of Western University on the project.

Working closely between institutions, the team has developed a study protocol. Pilot data was collected in London and included in the grant. Dr. Norton says the data “shows promise in the predictive value of the novel EEG measures.”