Age Can Predict Mortality After Traumatic Brain Injury

Man with Ice Pack Held to His Head

Although many more people today are surviving a traumatic brain injury than ever before, a brain injury is still a significant risk factor for death, even years after the injury. Age at the time of injury can also be related to the risk of death (or decreased life expectancy) after a brain injury.

A recent study found that age group, as it interacted with injury severity, had a significant influence on mortality. These findings showed that:

1. Injury at ages 15-24 years put males at a higher risk of death.
2. Injury at ages 24-34 put both genders at a 13% higher risk of death for every year past 24. The risk of death was 1% lower for every 1-point increase in the Functional Independence Scale of motor skills.
3. Injury at ages 35-44 put both genders at an 8% higher risk of death for every year past 35. People who were retired or unemployed at the time of injury had 2-4 times greater risk of death after injury.
4. Injury at ages 45-64 put women at a 41% lower risk of death than men. People who were divorced or widowed at the time of injury were almost twice as likely to have a decreased life expectancy than those who were married. People who had used illegal or prescription drugs before the injury were 1.5 times likely to have an increased risk of death.
5. Injury at age 65 years and older put women at a 48% lower risk of death than men. Those who were never married before the injury were at a 48% lower risk of death. Those whose injury was due to a fall were 1.5 times more likely to die than injury related to a car accident.
6. Injury at age 85 and older did not show a significantly greater risk of death, as compared to other age groups.

Harrison-Felix C, Kolakowsky-Haynor SA, Hammond FM, et al. Mortality after surviving traumatic brain injury: Risks based on age groups. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. (December 2012).