Long-term functional outcomes of traumatic brain injury

Karen A. Schwab*, Larus S. Gudmudsson, Henry L. Lew

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

18 Scopus citations


We review the literature on two long-term functional outcomes of traumatic brain injury (TBI) important to patients, family members, and rehabilitation treatment teams: work for pay and driving outcomes. Estimates on the percentages working after TBI have ranged widely, and few consistent prognostic indicators of long-term outcomes have been identified. The few large randomized controlled treatment trials of these long-term productive outcomes have been negative, but have identified promising subgroup results that bear further investigation. Salazar et al. (2000) identified patients with loss of consciousness of 1 hour or longer as a subgroup that benefited from intensive in-hospital treatment. Vanderploeg et al. (2008) found that the cognitive treatment arm resulted in improved cognitive performance, and that younger patients benefited more from the cognitive treatment; whereas older patients (31 plus) benefited from a more functional approach to treatment. The research evidence on driving post TBI is sparse - relying upon small studies, and lacking follow-up data. This review included only published research studies of 100 or more subjects, with control groups, and outcomes 6 months or longer after injury. The inclusion of more reliable studies narrowed return to work estimates and provided evidence that type of control group affects findings about return to work after mild TBI (mTBI). Prognostic indicators remain inconsistently measured among these more reliable studies. Heeding the frequent recommendation that research in this area be more stringently conducted, well powered, and use shared measures of critical variables would improve evidence. Adequately powered treatment trials of existing and innovative treatment modalities remain a priority.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Clinical Neurology
PublisherElsevier B.V.
Number of pages11
StatePublished - 2015

Publication series

NameHandbook of Clinical Neurology
ISSN (Print)0072-9752
ISSN (Electronic)2212-4152


  • Driving
  • Mild TBI
  • Outcomes
  • Work


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