, new data from the TRACK-TBI study shows.
“Seeing that more than half of the GCS [Glasgow Coma Score] 15, CT-negative TBI cohort in our study were not back to their preinjury baseline at 6 months was surprising and impacts the millions of Americans who suffer from concussions annually,” said lead author Debbie Madhok, MD, with department of emergency medicine, University of California, San Francisco.
“These results highlight the importance of improving care pathways for concussion, particularly from the emergency department,” Dr. Madhok said.
The findings were published online in JAMA Network Open.
The short- and long-term outcomes in the large group of patients who come into the ED with TBI, a GCS of 15, and without acute intracranial traumatic injury (defined as a negative head CT scan) remain poorly understood, the investigators noted. To investigate further, they evaluated outcomes at 2 weeks and 6 months in 991 of these patients (mean age, 38 years; 64% men) from the TRACK-TBI study.
Among the 751 (76%) participants followed up at 2 weeks after the injury, only 204 (27%) had functional recovery – with a Glasgow Outcome Scale-Extended (GOS-E) score of 8. The remaining 547 (73%) had incomplete recovery (GOS-E scores < 8).
Among the 659 patients (66%) followed up at 6 months after the injury, 287 (44%) had functional recovery and 372 (56%) had incomplete recovery.
Most patients who failed to recover completely reported they had not returned to their preinjury life (88%). They described trouble returning to social activities outside the home and disruptions in family relationships and friendships.
The researchers noted that the study population had a high rate of preinjury psychiatric comorbidities, and these patients were more likely to have incomplete recovery than those without psychiatric comorbidities. This aligns with results from previous studies, they added.
The investigators also noted that patients with mild TBI without acute intracranial trauma are typically managed by ED personnel.
“These findings highlight the importance of ED clinicians being aware of the risk of incomplete recovery for patients with a mild TBI (that is, GCS score of 15 and negative head CT scan) and providing accurate education and timely referral information before ED discharge,” they wrote.
The study was funded by grants from the National Foundation of Emergency Medicine, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the U.S. Department of Defense Traumatic Brain Injury Endpoints Development Initiative. Dr. Madhok has reported no relevant financial relationships.
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