Neurobehavioral outcome following minor head injury: a three-center study

J Neurosurg. 1987 Feb;66(2):234-43. doi: 10.3171/jns.1987.66.2.0234.


The majority of hospital admissions for head trauma are due to minor injuries; that is, no or only transient loss of consciousness without major complications and not requiring intracranial surgery. Despite the low mortality rate following minor head injury, there is controversy surrounding the extent of morbidity and the long-term sequelae. The authors postulated that consecutively admitted patients who fulfilled research diagnostic criteria for minor head injury and who were carefully screened for antecedent neuropsychiatric disorder and prior head injury would exhibit subacute cognitive and memory deficits that would resolve over a period of 1 to 3 months postinjury. To evaluate this hypothesis, the neurobehavioral functioning of 57 patients was compared within 1 week after minor head injury (baseline) and at 1 month postinjury with that of 56 selected control subjects at three medical centers. Quantified tests of memory, attention, and information-processing speed revealed that neurobehavioral impairment demonstrated at baseline by all means of measurement generally resolved during the first 3 months after minor head injury. Although nearly all patients initially reported cognitive problems, somatic complaints, and emotional malaise, these postconcussion symptoms had substantially resolved by the 3-month follow-up examination. The data suggest that a single uncomplicated minor head injury produces no permanent disabling neurobehavioral impairment in the great majority of patients who are free of preexisting neuropsychiatric disorder and substance abuse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain Concussion / diagnosis
  • Brain Concussion / physiopathology
  • Brain Concussion / psychology
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / diagnosis*
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / physiopathology
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Verbal Behavior