Objective: The Functional Status Examination (FSE) is a comprehensive measure of functional status post-traumatic brain injury (TBI) that has primarily been used in studies of moderate-to-severe TBI. The present observational study examines functional status using the FSE among patients who sustained mild TBIs (mTBIs; defined as Glasgow Coma Scale [GCS] = 13-15 at admission) seen in a Level 1 trauma center. Study aims included examining the course of functional status following mTBI, as well as exploring relationships of the FSE and other relevant constructs among those with GCS = 13-15.
Method: Participants were assessed at 2 weeks (n = 112), 3 months (n = 113), 6 months (n = 106), and 12 months (n = 88) post-injury for changes in functional status resulting both (a) from all injuries and (b) from TBI only.
Results: Among seven domains of day-to-day functioning, participants generally experienced the greatest disruption in their primary activity (work or school) and in leisure and recreation. Subjects' overall functional status tended to improve over time, with sharpest increases in functionality occurring in the first 3 months post-injury. However, some subjects continued to report functional limitations even at 12 months post-injury. Functional status was largely unrelated to neurocognitive functioning, but related strongly to post-traumatic symptoms, life satisfaction, and emotional well-being, particularly at 3 months post-injury and beyond.
Conclusion: Findings indicate that functional impairments related to mTBI may be more likely to persist than widely believed, with those who experience lingering functional deficits at particular risk for emotional health difficulties.
Keywords: Brain concussion; Brain injuries, Traumatic; Glasgow Coma Scale; Mental health; Neuropsychology; Patient outcome assessment.
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