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J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. Mar 2005; 76(3): 395–400.
PMCID: PMC1739527

Late mortality after head injury


Objectives: To investigate mortality trends in a cohort of people admitted to a regional head injury unit with all severities of injury in the calendar year 1981.

Methods: A computerised database with details of 1919 admissions was compared with deaths registered by the NHS Central Register, Scotland for the years 1981 to mid-2002. Death certificate information for matches was analysed.

Results: The 1919 admissions referred to 1871 individuals, comprising 93 severe, 205 moderate, and 1573 minor injuries according to Glasgow coma scale criteria. There were 57 deaths (42 severe head injuries, eight moderate, seven minor) during the initial admission, and 340 (six severe, 33 moderate, 301 minor) in the subsequent years. Substance abuse, principally alcohol, was a factor in 37 deaths, suicide accounted for 20, and accidents for 25. The great majority of these latter deaths were in people under the age of 70 years.

Conclusion: Premature deaths after predominantly minor head injury are commonly alcohol related or the result of suicide or accidents.

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Selected References

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