Traumatic brain injury in an aging population

J Neurotrauma. 2012 Apr 10;29(6):1119-25. doi: 10.1089/neu.2011.1995. Epub 2012 Apr 2.


The epidemiology of traumatic brain injury (TBI) is changing in several Western countries, with an increasing proportion of elderly TBI patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). We describe a series of 1366 adult patients admitted to three neuro-ICUs in which 44% of cases were 50 years of age or older. The health status before trauma (rated using the APACHE score) was worse in older patients. In all 604 patients had emergency removal of intracranial masses, with extradural hematomas more frequent in young cases and subdural hematomas more frequent in older patients. Outcomes were classified according to the Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) 6 months post-trauma, as favorable (GOS score 4-5), or unfavorable (GOS score 1-3). Favorable outcomes were achieved by 50% of patients, but the proportions of unfavorable outcomes rose with age. Mortality was the main cause of unfavorable outcomes 6 months after injury in older patients. Logistic regression analysis indicates that several parameters independently contributed to outcome, including the motor component of the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), pupils, CT findings, and early hypotension. Additionally, the odds ratios were very high for age and health status before TBI. Patients admitted to the ICU are increasingly older, have co-morbidities, and have specific types of intracranial lesions. Early rescue, surgical treatment, and intensive care of these patients may produce excellent results up to the age of 59 years, with favorable outcomes still possible for 39% of cases aged 60-69 years, without an excessive burden of severely disabled patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain Injuries / complications*
  • Brain Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Young Adult