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Pediatrics. 2002 Feb;109(2):E34.

Health-related quality of life of children and adolescents after traumatic brain injury.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, MetroHealth Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44109-1998, USA.



Relatively little is known about the longer-term impact of traumatic brain injury (TBI) on children's daily functioning, especially the broader outcome domain referred to as health-related quality of life (HRQL). The objective of the present study was to examine the nature and predictors of HRQL outcomes in children with moderate to severe TBI an average of 4 years postinjury.


The study used a concurrent cohort-prospective design involving postinjury assessments of 3 groups of traumatically injured children and their families including 42 with severe TBI, 42 with moderate TBI, and 50 with orthopedic injuries only. Parent and child perceptions of HRQL and child adaptive behavior measures were obtained along with parent descriptions of the child's health problems and use of medical and mental health services. Predictors included indices of injury severity, social factors, and ratings of preinjury child behavior problems and school performance.


Based on parent report, adolescents who sustained severe TBI had lower HRQL related to overall psychosocial functioning and in the domains of behavior, mental health, general health, and family impact than adolescents who sustained orthopedic injuries only. Communication skills, daily living skills, and general adaptive functioning also were rated lower in the severe TBI group. In contrast to parent reports, adolescents with severe TBI did not rate their HRQL in most domains differently than did adolescents with orthopedic injuries. There were no group differences in frequency of persistent physical limitations. Sixty-seven percent of families of children with severe TBI used mental health counseling at some point after the injury. Risks for poorer HRQL outcomes were related to family social disadvantage and poorer preinjury child behavioral and academic functioning.


Findings underscore the importance of using comprehensive measures of HRQL, along with traditional indicators of functional outcomes, when evaluating the longer-term impact of injuries in children. Identification of predictors suggests the need for close monitoring and intervention of high-risk children.

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