Does intensive rehabilitation improve the functional outcome of patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI)? A randomized controlled trial

Brain Inj. 2007 Jun;21(7):681-90. doi: 10.1080/02699050701468941.


Objective: To evaluate the effects of an increase in the intensity of rehabilitation on the functional outcome of patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Design and methods: Sixty-eight patients (age 12-65 years) with moderate-to-severe TBI were included. They were randomized into high (4-hour/day) or control (2-hour/day) intensity rehabilitation programmes at an average of 20 days after the injury. The programmes ended when the patients achieved independence in daily activities or when 6 months had passed.

Outcome and results: No significant differences were found in the Functional Independence Measure (FIM) (primary outcome) and Neurobehavioural Cognitive Status Examination (NCSE) total scores between the two groups. There were significantly more patients in the high intensity group than in the control group who achieved a maximum FIM total score at the third month (47% vs. 19%, p = 0.015) and a maximum Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) score at the second (28% vs. 8%, p = 0.034) and third months (34% vs. 14%, p = 0.044).

Conclusions: Early intensive rehabilitation may improve the functional outcome of patients with TBI in the early months post-injury and hence increase the chance of their returning to work early. Intensive rehabilitation in this study speeded up recovery rather than changed the final outcome.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology
  • Brain Injuries / psychology
  • Brain Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Child
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Glasgow Outcome Scale
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Rehabilitation / methods*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome