Best strategies to treat traumatic brain injury patients are unclear

Research Activities, October 2012, No. 386

A new review finds that for patients suffering from moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), there is insufficient evidence to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of multidisciplinary post-acute rehabilitation programs (programs that focus on improving all aspects of a TBI patient's physical, cognitive, and behavioral health). TBI occurs when there are changes to brain activity due to an external force. Severe injuries can lead to long-term disability. TBI is a significant public health issue in the United States, affecting approximately 1.7 million people annually. Major causes of TBI include falls, motor vehicle accidents, struck by/against incidents, assaults, and explosions/blasts for military personnel. TBI disproportionally affects males, those aged 15–24, and individuals with lower socioeconomic status.

There is much diversity and complexity of TBI populations and intervention approaches within studies, including time since injury, injury severity, impairment type and severity, and different intervention strategies to address needs. This diversity in cases makes it difficult to carry out, combine, and draw firm conclusions about research on this topic. Future research is needed to increase the number of studies on TBI rehabilitation interventions, including the need to identify and test potential patient and intervention combinations that are most likely to achieve success. Studies should also aim to compare similarly affected patients, improve reporting of conditions and treatments, and expand study sizes, note authors of the review from the Effective Health Care Program of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

More information on multidisciplinary rehabilitation approaches can be found in the evidence-based review, Multidisciplinary Postacute Rehabilitation for Moderate to Severe Traumatic Brain Injury in Adults. This review adds to AHRQ's growing library of resources. To access this review and other materials that explore the effectiveness and risks of treatment options for various conditions, visit the Effective Health Care Program Web site,

Current as of October 2012
Internet Citation: Best strategies to treat traumatic brain injury patients are unclear: Research Activities, October 2012, No. 386. October 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.