Objective: To evaluate whether early neuropsychologic testing is useful in predicting long-term productivity outcome after traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Design: Validation cohort prediction study.
Setting: Four inpatient brain injury rehabilitation programs participating in the Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems project.
Participants: A total of 293 adults with nonpenetrating TBI.
Main outcome measures: Fifteen neuropsychologic tests were administered to patients who emerged from posttraumatic amnesia before rehabilitation discharge. Test scores were classified in the normal range or impaired range, using objective criteria. Outcome was defined as productive if the patient was competitively employed or enrolled full time in regular education.
Results: Productivity at follow-up was predicted by completion of at least 1 neuropsychologic test before discharge, by an injury-test interval of less than 2 months, and by normal range scores on 10 of the 15 neuropsychologic tests. Normal range scores on these tests increased the probability of a productive outcome by 40% to 130%.
Conclusions: Neuropsychologic testing can help predict long-term productivity even when performed before discharge from inpatient rehabilitation and at variable injury-test intervals. Early testing should be interpreted in relation to injury-test interval. Because tests of multiple neuropsychologic domains predicted outcome, comprehensive evaluations might be more useful in predicting outcome.