Sex differences in injury severity and outcome measures after traumatic brain injury

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2004 Mar;85(3):376-9. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2003.05.007.


Objective: To investigate the effect of a patient's sex on various measures of injury severity and outcome after rehabilitation in a matched sample of patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Design: Retrospective data were retrieved from a database that contains information routinely collected on all patients admitted for inpatient rehabilitation.

Setting: Inpatient rehabilitation unit of major teaching hospital in Australia.

Participants: Fifty-four women with TBI after a motor vehicle crash (MVC) were identified from the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Database. An equal number of men were then matched for age and years of education. All subjects met the study admission criteria of having being involved in a high-speed MVC. Exclusion criteria included history of a previous head injury, chronic amnesia, psychiatric disturbance, and significant alcohol and/or substance abuse.

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main outcome measures: Differences, by sex, in patient scores on measures of injury severity and outcome after TBI.

Results: Men had significantly greater levels of injury severity as indicated by the Glasgow Coma Scale scores (U=994.0, P=.002) and length of posttraumatic amnesia (U=880.0, P=.016) when compared with women. No significant sex differences existed in the outcome measures or in injuries not associated with the central nervous system.

Conclusions: Few investigations exist on the effect of patient sex on measures of injury severity and outcome after a TBI. In the present study, men's levels of injury severity were greater than women's despite the same admission criteria (high-speed MVC) being applied to both sexes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amnesia / etiology
  • Brain Injuries / complications
  • Brain Injuries / mortality
  • Brain Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Matched-Pair Analysis
  • Recovery of Function
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Factors*
  • Trauma Severity Indices*
  • Treatment Outcome