Introduction: The purpose of this study was to illuminate the trends in the numbers of hospitalized head-injured patients in Denmark from 1994 to 2002 compared to the preceding decade, and to comment on the response to recommendations from the National Board of Health concerning hospital treatment.
Materials and methods: The National Patient Registry and the national register of causes of death were searched for ICD10 diagnoses corresponding to structural brain injury, selected cranial fracture diagnoses, and concussion as a first or secondary diagnosis.
Results and conclusion: The most important tendencies were an increasing number of intracranial haemorrhages and a decrease in the numbers of other structural brain injuries, cranial fractures and brain concussions. Age at injury and the ratio of males to females increased for all categories. The death rate in hospital was a constant 16.5% for intracranial haemorrhages but decreased for other structural brain injuries, from 19.3% in 1994 to 15.3% in 2002. The number of hospitalizations of more than three months' duration increased correspondingly. In all, deaths in hospital decreased from 5.3 to 5.0 per 100,000 population. Two centres for rehabilitation of the most severely injured 16% were established during the study period. The increasing number of hospitalizations of duration exceeding three months, but where the inclusion criteria for these centres were not fulfilled, emphasizes the need for follow-up of recommendations concerning county/regional hospital-based rehabilitation units for patients with moderate to severe head injury. In addition, better organization and coordination of follow-up of patients with sequelae after concussion are desirable.