Objective: To assess associations between real-world care pathways for working-age patients in the first year after severe traumatic brain injury and outcomes at 1 year.
Setting and design: Prospective, observational study with recruitment from 6 neurosurgical centers in Sweden and Iceland. Follow-up to 1 year, independently of care pathways, by rehabilitation physicians and paramedical professionals.
Participants: Patients with severe traumatic brain injury, lowest (nonsedated) Glasgow Coma Scale score 3 to 8 during the first 24 hours and requiring neurosurgical intensive care, age 18 to 65 years, and alive 3 weeks after injury.
Main measures: Length of stay in intensive care, time between intensive care discharge and rehabilitation admission, outcome at 1 year (Glasgow Outcome Scale Extended score), acute markers of injury severity, preexisting medical conditions, and post-acute complications. Logistic regression analyses were performed.
Results: A multivariate model found variables significantly associated with outcome (odds ratio for good outcome [confidence interval], P value) to be as follows: length of stay in intensive care (0.92 [0.87-0.98], 0.014), time between intensive care discharge and admission to inpatient rehabilitation (0.97 [0.94-0.99], 0.017), and post-acute complications (0.058 [0.006-0.60], 0.017).
Conclusions: Delays in rehabilitation admission were negatively associated with outcome. Measures to ensure timely rehabilitation admission may improve outcome. Further research is needed to evaluate possible causation.