Clinical course and outcome of severe head injury in Australia

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✓ The records of 159 severely head-injured patients (all in coma for longer than 6 hours) from Sydney, Australia, were studied. The clinical course, charted over a 2-week period, indicated that 60% of deaths occur by Day 3 and that 12% of patients remain in coma (Glagow Coma Scale (GCS) score < 7) for more than 2 weeks. Overall, at long-term follow-up review more than 2 years after injury, 51% of patients were dead, 7% were severely disabled or vegetative, and 42% had a good to moderate recovery. Outcome of the patients in prolonged coma was assessed separately, with only one-third making a good or moderate recovery; two-thirds of the severely disabled patients came from this group. The high proportion of poor outcomes associated with prolonged coma suggests that this group of patients should be specifically targeted in research. One appropriate intervention with this group would be the restructuring and intensification of early rehabilitation. However, the GCS score lacks the precision needed for this type of study, and a better measure of recovery should be developed.

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Contributor Notes

Address reprint requests to: John P. Pierce, Ph.D., Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia.

© AANS, except where prohibited by US copyright law.

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