To examine functional limitations, recovery rates, and association with Injury Severity Scores (ISSs), we followed 92 children with severe trauma and 59 control subjects with appendicitis at 6 months and 1 year after discharge. Physical health status was assessed by the Rand Health Insurance Study instrument. Overall, 73% and 55% of trauma patients had one or more functional limitations at 6 months and 1 year, respectively, in contrast to 14% and 9% of the controls. Overall functional status of the trauma patients improved by 22% in the first 6 months and 24% in the second. Much higher recovery rates (73% and 46%) were noted for self care. Although ISS did not correlate with overall functional status, higher ISSs were related to impairment in patients whose principal injury was to the head or the face-chest-abdomen but not in those whose principal injury was to an extremity. This study shows that many children with severe trauma are left with disabilities. Recovery rates are not uniform but depend on type of limitation. Functional impairment and recovery are related more to the body parts involved than to ISS.