Measuring functional and quality of life outcomes following major head injury: common scales and checklists

Injury. 2011 Mar;42(3):281-7. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2010.11.047. Epub 2010 Dec 8.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major public health issue, which results in significant mortality and long term disability. The profound impact of TBI is not only felt by the individuals who suffer the injury but also their care-givers and society as a whole. Clinicians and researchers require reliable and valid measures of long term outcome not only to truly quantify the burden of TBI and the scale of functional impairment in survivors, but also to allow early appropriate allocation of rehabilitation supports. In addition, clinical trials which aim to improve outcomes in this devastating condition require high quality measures to accurately assess the impact of the interventions being studied. In this article, we review the properties of an ideal measure of outcome in the TBI population. Then, we describe the key components and performance of the measurement tools most commonly used to quantify outcome in clinical studies in TBI. These measurement tools include: the Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) and extended Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOSe); Disability Rating Scale (DRS); Functional Independence Measure (FIM); Functional Assessment Measure (FAM); Functional Status Examination (FSE) and the TBI-specific and generic quality of life measures used in TBI patients (SF-36 and SF-12, WHOQOL-BREF, SIP, EQ-5D, EBIQ, and QOLIBRI).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Brain Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Checklist
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Glasgow Outcome Scale / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Recovery of Function / physiology*