The primary aim of this study was to evaluate the global outcome longitudinally over 5 years in children and adolescents surviving moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (msTBI) to investigate changes in outcome over time. The secondary aim was to explore how age at the time of injury affected outcome.
All children and adolescents (aged 0–17 years; subdivided into children aged 0–10 years and adolescents aged 11–17 years) with moderate (Glasgow Coma Scale [GCS] score 9–13) or severe (GCS score ≤ 8) TBI who were admitted to a level I trauma center in Norway over a 10-year period (2004–2014) were prospectively included. In addition, young adults (aged 18–24 years) with msTBI were included for comparison. Outcome was assessed with the Glasgow Outcome Scale–Extended (GOS-E) at 6 months, 12 months, and 5 years after injury. The effect of time since injury and age at injury on the probability of good outcome was estimated by the method of generalized estimating equations.
A total of 30 children, 39 adolescents, and 97 young adults were included, among which 24 children, 38 adolescents, and 76 young adults survived and were planned for follow-up. In-hospital mortality from TBI was 7% for children, 3% for adolescents, and 18% for young adults. In surviving patients at the 5-year follow-up, good recovery (GOS-E score 7 or 8) was observed in 87% of children and all adolescents with moderate TBI, as well as in 44% of children and 59% of adolescents with severe TBI. No patient remained in a persistent vegetative state. For all patients, the odds for good recovery increased from 6 to 12 months (OR 1.79, 95% CI 1.15–2.80; p = 0.010), although not from 12 months to 5 years (OR 0.98, 95% CI 0.62–1.55; p = 0.940). Children/adolescents (aged 0–17 years) had higher odds for good recovery than young adults (OR 2.86, 95% CI 1.26–6.48; p = 0.012).
In this population-based study of pediatric msTBI, surprisingly high rates of good recovery over 5 years were found, including good recovery for a large majority of children and all adolescents with moderate TBI. Less than half of the children and more than half of the adolescents with severe TBI had good outcomes. The odds for good recovery increased from 6 to 12 months and were higher in children/adolescents (aged 0–17 years) than in young adults.