Objectives: To explore the long-term relations among sociodemographic, neurologic, clinical, and neuropsychologic variables, and vocational status in persons with mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), and to identify the symptoms that determine whether or not these individuals return to work.
Design: Longitudinal quasi-experimental between-groups design.
Participants: Eighty-five MTBI subjects aged between 16 and 65 years.
Setting: The emergency ward of the Trois-Rivieres Regional Hospital Centre in Quebec, Canada.
Main outcome measures: Age, gender, Glasgow Coma Scale score, duration of posttraumatic amnesia, duration of retrograde amnesia, total of symptoms at emergency, time elapsed since the trauma, Paced Auditory Serial Addition Task, Stroop Color Word Test, California Verbal Learning Test, and the number of symptoms at follow-up (12 to 36 months posttrauma).
Results: Only the total number of symptoms reported at follow-up was related to vocational status. The majority of individuals had returned to work 1 year or more post-MTBI. Individuals who had not returned to work reported the greatest number of symptoms, which could be linked to their affective status. Six affective symptoms, 5 cognitive symptoms, 6 physical symptoms, and 8 symptoms relating to social and daily life activities differentiated the participants who had returned to work from those who had not.
Conclusions: Patient characteristics, injury severity indicators, and cognitive functions were not associated with vocational status. To better understand post-MTBI vocational status, it is important to focus on subjective complaints that arise following the injury.