Acute predictors of successful return to work 1 year after traumatic brain injury: a multicenter analysis

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1997 Feb;78(2):125-31. doi: 10.1016/s0003-9993(97)90252-5.


Objective: To investigate the influence of acute injury characteristics on subsequent return to work in traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients.

Design: Descriptive statistics were performed in a comparative study of 49 TBI patients who were competitively employed at 1-year follow-up and 83 unemployed patients. Independent t tests were then performed to examine the differences between the two groups on specific measures including the Disability Rating Scale (DRS), Functional Assessment Measure (FIM), Rancho Los Amigos Scale (RLAS), Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), Neurobehavioral Rating Scale (NRS), and neuropsychological test results.

Setting: Four medical centers in the federally sponsored Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems Project that provide emergency medical services, intensive and acute medical care, inpatient rehabilitation, and a spectrum of community rehabilitation services.

Participants: Patients were selected from a national database of 245 rehabilitation inpatients admitted to acute care within 8 hours of TBI and seen at 1-year follow-up.

Main outcome measure: Return to work at 1-year follow-up.

Results: Persons employed at 1-year follow-up obtained significantly better scores on specific acute measures of physical functioning (Admission FIM, Admission DRS, Discharge DRS), cognitive functioning (Logical Memory Delay), behavioral functioning (Admission RLAS, Discharge RLAS, NRS Excitement factor), and injury severity (Admission GCS, Highest GCS, Length of Coma, Length of PTA) than their unemployed counterparts.

Conclusions: Persons obtaining better scores on certain acute measures (e.g., Admission GCS) are more likely to return to the workforce. Future research should focus on developing a standardized tool to assess a patient's ability to return to work, as well as an operational definition for successful employment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Employment*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rehabilitation Centers
  • United States