University of Washington

Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

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Prevalence of comorbidity and its association with traumatic brain injury and outcomes in older adults


Thompson HJ, Dikmen S, Temkin N.



Publication Info:

Res Gerontol Nurs, 5(1):17-24


The study aims were to examine the association between age, comorbidity, and cause of injury in older adults with traumatic brain injury (TBI); and to determine which comorbidities relate to mortality, length of stay, and functional outcome at hospital discharge, controlling for initial injury severity, age, and sex. A retrospective cohort study design was used; clinical and outcome trauma registry data were obtained for 196 adults 55 and older with TBI. The majority had at least one comorbid condition (e.g., hypertension, alcohol abuse). In-hospital mortality was 31%. Among the oldest-old, motor vehicle collisions and falls were significantly associated with specific chronic diseases. Prior myocardial infarction was significantly associated with an increased risk of in-hospital death. Injury Severity Score and Glasgow Coma Scale score were predictive of discharge function, but comorbidity did not add significantly to the model. Primary TBI prevention efforts in older adults must consider the impact of comorbidity and cause of injury, particularly in the oldest-old. Alcohol abuse is common in older adults with TBI; screening should be conducted and interventions developed to prevent future injury. Future study is warranted to understand the interplay between pathophysiology of comorbid disease and injury and how to best manage rehabilitation within the context of aging.

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