Recovery of function following severe traumatic brain injury: a retrospective 10-year follow-up

Brain Inj. 1995 Apr;9(3):285-99. doi: 10.3109/02699059509008199.


It has been widely assumed that most of the recovery following severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs within the first 6 months, and that virtually all of the recovery occurs within the first 1-2 years post-injury. In an effort to evaluate the long-term recovery of patients who had sustained severe TBI, we interviewed the relatives and significant others of 20 patients who had sustained TBI at least 5 years earlier, using a modified version of the Portland Adaptability Inventory. Retrospective ratings were collected to evaluate the patients' psychosocial, cognitive, physical, and emotional status prior to their injury, and at 1, 2, 5, and an average of 10.3 years post-injury. The results indicated that TBI patients exhibit significant improvements in their social, cognitive, physical, and emotional functioning after 2 years post-injury regardless of the severity of their initial brain trauma. These data suggest that patients who sustain severe TBI continue to make gradual improvements in their functioning for at least 10 years post-injury. Our findings contradict the widely held assumption that the recovery process ends after 1 or 2 years post-injury.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / classification
  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / physiopathology
  • Affective Symptoms / psychology
  • Affective Symptoms / rehabilitation
  • Aged
  • Aphasia / physiopathology
  • Aphasia / psychology
  • Aphasia / rehabilitation
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / psychology
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / rehabilitation*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Head Injuries, Closed / physiopathology
  • Head Injuries, Closed / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Personality Assessment
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Social Behavior
  • Substance-Related Disorders / physiopathology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Temperament