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A.R.Co.92 Onlus – Organization for the Rehabilitation of the Comatose
(Onlus – Non lucrative association for social benefit)
A.R.Co.92 Onlus was born and developed in Rome in 1992, as a result of a group of people being troubled by a family member entering a coma due to serious head trauma.

Since its establishment, the association has been run by Maria Elena Villa, assisted by a group of field specialists (reanimation experts, neurologists, physiatrists, physiotherapists, psychologists and nurses mainly engaged in the Reanimation Sections of the Policlinico “A.Gemelli” and I.R.C.C.S. “Santa Lucia” in Rome), and an indispensable group of volunteers.

A.R.Co.92 Onlus strives to fill – at least partly – the void left by the Italian National Sanitary Service in the area of post-comatose assistance. Mortality due to neurological injuries has, infact, notably diminished, due to always more efficient reanimation techniques. Because of this, the number of persons (mostly young) needing a long and thorough rehabilitation has increased. Nevertheless, specialized structures in Italy, are not adequate to treat the therapeutical needs of such patients. In too many cases it is consequently necessary to turn to foreign structures, with excessive costs for the majority of patients and their families. With this in mind, the A.R.Co.92 Onlus’ activities are mainly focused on the following objectives:

sensitize public opinion to coma and post-coma issues;
provide volunteer support to public and private Reanimation and Rehabilitation sanitary services;
assist the patient’s family during and after hospital admission;
lend at-home assistance for discharged patients needing physical and neuro-psychological therapy:
find funding to obtain machinery, support and medicines necessary for bettering the patient’s quality of living.

Together with its social activity, A.R.Co.92 Onlus labours to promote the development of scientific knowledge intended for prevention and treatment of the coma, through:

- the institution of scholarships intended to update physicians and nurses;
- supporting research on the subject of cranial trauma epidemiology;
- the organization of meetings, congresses and study projects

In December of 1999, A.R.Co.92 Onlus, and Fondazione Santa Lucia, together with the Italian “Assessorato alle Politiche per la Qualità della Vita della Regione Lazio” (Lazio Region Committee for Policy and Quality of Life) and the San Michele Institute, inaugurated “Casa Dago” in Rome. Such a structure is able to welcome the post-comatose patient with a family member, during the delicate moment of dismissal from a rehabilitation hospital, and is fully equipped to assist the patient in favour of family, social and work reintegration. A multi specialized personnel from I.R.C.C.S. “Santa Lucia” operates in this family-home. The goal is to promote the potential and enduring capacities of a post-comatose patient, in order to remain active, even with neuro-motorial or neuro-phsycological deficits.

In September of 2004 the Structure was closed down. In December of 2005 the former Region President Storace inaugurated the newborn Casa Dago in Via della Fotografia 90, together with former Health Committee Head Marco Verzaschi and Anna Teresa Formisano, Head of Social Services Committee. The following personalities were also present: Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini, Domenico Gramazio (Head of National Public Health) Ileana Argentini (representing Rome’s Association for the Disabled), and Luigi Amadio, President of the Fondazione Santa Lucia.

In order to widen areas of intervention, the Association has recently started to organize the opening of a similar structure in Messina, Sicily, and is striving to institute such organizations throughout all of Italy.

A 30.00 euro fee is fixed for whoever may want to join the Association, while supporting members may choose any sum they wish to offer. Deposits may be made using postal checking account n. 75809004.

Activities and Programs - Learning Activities and Therapeutical Programs

- January 2005
Decoupage classes
“Through Art Therapy, the patient can become independent by process of auto creation, and by painting the self it is possible to recreate the self, for what is painted is operating fantasy, and it is, by this, operating inside” Jung

- February 2005
Computer classes in preparation for the European Computer Driving Licence certificate recognized throughout all of Europe

- October 2004
“Guide to at-risk Behaviour” - Car Accident Information and Prevention Project for Schools

- November 2002
“Back to Driving” project, in collaboration with the Italian Superior Health Institute and I.R.C.C.S. Santa Lucia: study on accident risks related to post-comatose patients who return to driving automobiles.

September 2002
“A Dog for a Smile” project, together with A.N.U.C.C.S. and with the contribution of the City of Rome: experiment in Casa Dago on pet therapy and its effect on post-comatose patients.

- March 2002
OFFT (horti-fruit-floral culture) Laboratory, with the support of “Agriverde”, Rome and “Agro.Sem 2000”, Tarquinia, Viterbo. These classes aim for the healing, formation and reintroduction of post-comatose patients into the working world.

- January 2000
Basic Computer classes – group classes at Casa Dago, dedicated to live-in patients and externals. Objective: for post-comatose patients to increase communication capacities and possibilities of returning to study and work environments.

Associazione per la Riabilitazione del Comatoso

- January 1999
GROSINT Project, together with the Policlinico Gemelli of Rome and with the support of Ina-Assitalia: realization of network connections throughout all major centres of Intensive Therapy in Rome, for the immediate and continuous exchange of information and data regarding head trauma injury epidemiology.


The Italian National Sanitary Service does not provide centres dedicated to the cure of post-comatose patients in transition between hospital rehabilitation therapy and the return home. To fill this void “Pogetto Dago (Project Dago)” was initiated, thanks to the collaboration between A.R.Co.92 Onlus and Fondazione Santa Lucia. Because of this project and with the support of the Lazio Region, “Casa Dago” was reopened.

Casa Dago is the first structure in Italy dedicated to the familiar, social, scholastic and work rehabilitation of the post-comatose patient.

It is intended for patients with neuro–motor neuropsychological injuries consequent to coma. These patients follow rehabilitation programs at day hospital in specialized institutions. Each patient lives in the home, together with a family member and both are instructed in order to reach and maintain project objectives for family and social reintegration.

Neurophysiologists, psychologists, teachers, social workers and specialized volunteers guarantee a safe environment where patients and family members can jointly experiment ways in which to recuperate the highest possible independence during day to day life.

External post-comatose patients and families, who are out of rehabilitation projects, are also welcome.

Within, innovative rehabilitation activities take place, such as computer classes (with ECDL – European Driving Licence certificate), decoupage, horti-fruit-floral culture (OFFT), sport therapy and pet therapy (animal assisted activities). To verify the recovery of driving capacities, practical assessment is provided, together with FIAT and the Italian Superior Institute for Health, taking place on an external circuit.

Casa Dago is equipped with 8 mini apartments, each one with 2 beds and disabled proof bathrooms. Common areas (dining room, sitting room, TV room, classrooms, garden) favour socialization. All spaces are free of architectonic barriers. The structure is functionally connected to the nearby I.R.C.C.S. Santa Lucia, highly qualified in neuro motorial rehabilitation. An equipped bus is available for patients with external rehabilitation therapy and recreational activities.

Aims and Objectives
- reduce bed confinement in traditional rehabilitation structures;
- avoid drifting between several rehabilitation centres;
- reduce travelling for family members between home and the rehabilitation centre;
- contrast the tendency for auto isolation of patients and their families;
- increase residual capacities of post-comatose patients;
- contain sanitary and social expenses

Animal assisted activities supply useful stimuli for patients with disabilities that weigh on emotional expressive and verbal capacities. The most suitable animals for such activities are dogs, with their ability to interact with such patients and their capacity to exchange a great number of emotional and communicative signals with human beings.

At Casa Dago, in 2002, a pilot project was initiated, identified as “Un cane pr tornare a sorridere (a dog to return to smiling)”, intended for post-comatose subjects between the ages of 15 and 40. The project was organized with the support of ANUCCS (Associazione Nazionale Utilizzo del Cane per Scopi Sociali – National Association for Social Service Dog Use).

OFFT (horti-fruit-floral culture) Therapy is a rapidly growing and useful instrument in the rehabilitation of disabled subjects. Such a therapy, applied through A.R.Co. 92 Onlus projects, is able to further attention and responsibility capacities even in post-comatose patients. Notions learned during such an experience also lend a valid contribution to reinsertion into the working world.
Classes are held with the support of AGRIVERDE, a specialized company.

Association is fixed at 50,00 euro, donations are unrestricted. Click here for information on how to make a donation.

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