The term low awareness is used in medicine and psychology to refer to a patient who possesses only minimal consciousness or is in a near vegetative state. This state of consciousness is not always easy to diagnose because although a patient's presentation may seem unaware of activity around them they may be more aware than appearances might indicate. This makes it necessary to employ assessments that are both highly structured and comprehensive to avoid missing meaningful responses.
For example, locked-in syndrome (LIS) is a rare disorder in which a person's voluntary muscles are completely paralyzed with the exception of their eyes. Although their cognitive function is not diminished is can appear as if they are in a vegetative state. Although they appear to be in a low awareness condition they are not.