Nutrition considerations in traumatic brain injury

Nutr Clin Pract. 2008 Dec-2009 Jan;23(6):608-20. doi: 10.1177/0884533608326060.


The provision of adequate nutrition support for patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been a clinical challenge for decades. The primary and secondary injuries create unique metabolic derangements along with accompanying issues such as optimal timing and route of nutrition, appropriate fluid and electrolytes, drug administration, rehabilitation, and dysphagia. Enteral nutrition is clearly established as the preferential route of nutrition support for this population vs parenteral nutrition. There appears to be a consensus on early initiation of enteral nutrition, but less definitive are recommendations on advancement timing and formula components. Nutrition therapies should include exact fluid resuscitation goals specific for TBI and strict electrolyte monitoring to avoid extreme fluid, electrolyte, or glucose shifts that could be detrimental to the patient. While the critical care patient often tolerates small bowel feeding, the long-term rehabilitation patient should transition to and tolerate gastric feeding. Drug-nutrient and adverse drug reactions such as diarrhea should be routinely evaluated in patients receiving enteral nutrition. Monitoring for dysphagia is critical to avoid the costly negative aspects associated with aspiration and to capitalize on quality of life and appropriate oral nutrition. Emphasizing the priority of early nutrition support within a multi-disciplinary team may be the critical key for successful provision and tolerance of nutrition support in the TBI population.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Injuries / metabolism*
  • Brain Injuries / therapy*
  • Energy Intake / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Enteral Nutrition / methods*
  • Enteral Nutrition / standards
  • Food-Drug Interactions
  • Humans
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Nutritional Requirements*
  • Water-Electrolyte Balance / physiology*