Objective: The aim of this study was to describe and compare the recovery and disability trajectory at 1 year post injury for younger and older adults with traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Methods: This was a prospective longitudinal cohort study. Individuals 21 years and older with mild to moderate TBI were recruited from the emergency department (n = 33). We measured symptoms, function (Glasgow Outcome Scale-Extended, Functional Status Examination), and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) at 1 week and 1, 3, 6, and 12 months post injury.
Results: Whereas the total number of symptoms does not differ between younger and older adults after TBI, the specific constellation of symptoms experienced does. Older adults are more likely to experience physical symptoms such as fatigue, balance, and coordination problems as well as complain of being bothered by noise. Younger adults, in contrast, endorse more psychological symptoms such as anxiety. Functioning as measured by the Glasgow Outcome Scale-Extended and Functional Status Examination was lower in older adults at 1 year post injury. Physical HRQOL was consistently poorer in the year post injury among older adults compared with younger adults after TBI. Mental HRQOL, in contrast, was higher in older adults post TBI at 1 year.
Conclusions: During the first year post TBI, older adults report different symptom clusters than do younger adults post TBI. To foster improved recovery and HRQOL in the older adult post TBI, nursing management strategies should focus on balance, coordination, and energy conservation.