Predicting Functional Outcome In Older Adults With Traumatic Brain Injury

doctors reviewing brain scans

People over age 65 are a much greater risk of sustaining a traumatic brain injury (TBI) than people between the ages of 40 and 65. Most of these injuries are caused by falls. The outcome of TBI in older adults can vary greatly-many older adults will recover enough to manage daily living without much assistance, but some will require a substantial amount of care for years after the injury.

There are certain factors that can help predict outcome in an older adult with TBI. These factors can be categorized as: personal (age, gender, co-morbid conditions), injury-related (injury severity, complications), and environmental (family, access to social support, rehabilitation). These factors are helpful when predicting short-term outcome, but have not been previously tested for long-term outcome.

A recent study sought to define the predictors of long-term recovery (2-4 years) in older adults with TBI. They found that the factors related to a negative outcome (less independence) after TBI were: female gender, older age at time of injury, longer acute care length of stay, greater number of co-morbid conditions, and limited access to rehabilitation services. These factors should be taken into consideration when planning the long-term care of older adults with TBI.

Lecours A, Sirois M, Ouleet M, Boivin K, & Simard J. Long-term functional outcome of older adults after a traumatic brain injury. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. (March 2012).