Bottom Line: This study describes the path to recovery of daily function in patients with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) using data from a study that followed a group of patients with mTBI over time. The study included 1,154 patients with mTBI who sought care at level 1 trauma centers and 299 patients with orthopedic injuries but no signs of head trauma for comparison. The two groups of patients weren't statistically significantly different postinjury from two weeks to six months based on reported functional limitations. However, at 12 months postinjury more patients in the mTBI group continued to report limitations compared to those patients in the group with orthopedic injuries. At 12 months, 47 percent of patients with mTBI but 62 percent of those with orthopedic injuries reported a full return to their preinjury functioning levels. The results of this observational study may not be generalizable to a broader population of patients with mTBI, including those who didn't go to emergency departments. Also, the assessment to measure aspects of daily functioning is completed through interviews with patients or their proxies. These findings suggest the need for more follow-up of patients after mTBI to reduce the chance of chronic problems after injury.
Authors: Lindsay D. Nelson, Ph.D., of the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and coauthors
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