Objective: To obtain information on long-term mortality risk and life expectancy after traumatic brain injury (TBI), to improve planning and for counseling patients and their families. In contrast to the literature for spinal cord injury and other disabilities, there have been few such reports for TBI.
Design: Records were reviewed on 946 persons aged 5 to 21 years who had sustained TBI. All were patients who subsequently received disability services in California, 1987 to 1995.
Results: The chief predictors of mortality were basic functional skills such as mobility and self-feeding. After the initial high-risk period, mortality risk for TBI was much lower than for similarly functioning persons with cerebral palsy (a comparison group), although after 10 years the two sets of mortality rates had largely converged. For high-functioning persons, life expectancies were only 3 to 5 years shorter than for the general population. By contrast, the remaining life expectancy for those without mobility 6 months after injury was only 15 years.