Functional Outcomes of Motor Vehicle Crash Head Injuries in Pediatric and Adult Occupants

Traffic Inj Prev. 2016 Sep;17 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):27-33. doi: 10.1080/15389588.2016.1201203.


Objective: The objective of the study was to develop a disability-based metric for motor vehicle crash (MVC) injuries, with a focus on head injuries, and compare the functional outcomes between the pediatric and adult populations.

Methods: Disability risk (DR) was quantified using Functional Independence Measure (FIM) scores within the National Trauma Data Bank-Research Data System (NTDB-RDS) for the top 95% most frequently occurring Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) 3, 4, and 5 head injuries in NASS-CDS 2000-2011. Pediatric (ages 7-18), adult (19-45), middle-aged (46-65), and older adult (66+) patients with an FIM score available who were alive at discharge and had an AIS 3, 4, or 5 injury were included in the study. The NTDB-RDS contains a truncated form of the FIM instrument, including 3 items (self-feed, locomotion, and verbal expression), each graded on a scale of 1 (full functional dependence) to 4 (full functional independence). Patients within each age group were classified as disabled or not disabled based on the FIM scale. The DR was calculated for each age group by dividing the number of patients who sustained a specific injury and were disabled by the number of patients who sustained the specific injury. To account for the impact of more severe associated coinjuries, a maximum AIS (MAIS) adjusted DR (DRMAIS) was also calculated for each injury. DR and DRMAIS ranged from 0 (0% disability risk) to 1 (100% disability risk).

Results: An analysis of the most frequent FIM components associated with disabling MVC head injuries revealed that disability across all 3 items (self-feed, locomotion, and expression) was the most frequent for pediatric and adult patients. Only locomotion was the most frequent for middle-aged and older adults. The mean DRMAIS for MVC head injuries was 35% for pediatric patients, 36% for adults, 38% for middle-aged adults, and 44% for older adults. Further analysis was conducted by grouping the head injuries into 8 groups based on the structure of injury and injury type. The pediatric population possessed higher DRMAIS values for brain stem injuries as well as loss of consciousness injuries. Older adults possessed higher DRMAIS values for contusion/hemorrhage injuries, epidural hemorrhage, intracerebral hemorrhage, skull fracture, and subdural/subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Conclusion: At-risk populations such as pediatric and older adult patients possessed higher DRMAIS values for different head injuries. Disability in pediatric patients is critical due to loss of quality life years. Disability risk can supplement severity metrics to improve the ability of such metrics to discriminate the severity of different injuries that do not lead to death. Understanding of age-related differences in injury outcomes when compared to adults could inform future age-specific modifications to the AIS.

Keywords: Abbreviated Injury Scale; Disability; head injuries; motor vehicle crash; pediatric.

MeSH terms

  • Abbreviated Injury Scale
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / etiology*
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / physiopathology*
  • Disabled Persons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recovery of Function / physiology*
  • Risk