The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Traumatic Brain Injury Management: Lessons Learned Over the First Year

World Neurosurg. 2021 Dec:156:28-32. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2021.09.030. Epub 2021 Sep 13.


The COVID-19 pandemic has had widespread consequences on health care systems around the world. It resulted in extensive changes to the referral patterns, management, and rehabilitation of surgical conditions. We aimed to evaluate the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on traumatic brain injury (TBI) specifically. We reviewed the literature published on COVID-19 and TBI referrals, management, and rehabilitation. Significant changes were seen in the referral patterns of TBIs worldwide, explained by changes in societal behaviors and changes in the mechanism of injury. Implementation of strict infection control measures and COVID-19 screening was commonplace, with some reporting changes to operating room protocols. TBI was more likely to be conservatively managed. Rehabilitation services were restricted, with a greater shift towards telemedicine to provide rehabilitative therapy remotely.

Keywords: COVID-19; Management; Referral; Rehabilitation; Traumatic brain injury.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic*
  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Neurological Rehabilitation / methods*
  • Neurological Rehabilitation / trends*
  • Referral and Consultation / trends*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Telemedicine / methods
  • Telemedicine / trends