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Neurobehavioral outcome 1 year after severe head injury

Experience of the Traumatic Coma Data Bank

Harvey S. Levin, Howard E. Gary Jr., Howard M. Eisenberg, Ronald M. Ruff, Jeffrey T. Barth, Jeffrey Kreutzer, Walter M. High Jr., Sandra Portman, Mary A. Foulkes, John A. Jane, Anthony Marmarou and Lawrence F. Marshall

✓ The outcome 1 year after they had sustained a severe head injury was investigated in patients who were admitted to the neurosurgery service at one of four centers participating in the Traumatic Coma Data Bank (TCDB). Of 300 eligible survivors, the quality of recovery 1 year after injury was assessed by at least the Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) in 263 patients (87%), whereas complete neuropsychological assessment was performed in 127 (42%) of the eligible survivors. The capacity of the patients to undergo neuropsychological testing 1 year after injury was a criterion of recovery as reflected by a significant relationship to neurological indices of acute injury and the GOS score at the time of hospital discharge. The neurobehavioral data at 1 year after injury were generally comparable across the four samples of patients and characterized by impairment of memory and slowed information processing. In contrast, language and visuospatial ability recovered to within the normal range. The lowest postresuscitation Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score and pupillary reactivity were predictive of the 1-year GOS score and neuropsychological performance. The lowest GCS score was especially predictive of neuropsychological performance 1 year postinjury in patients who had at least one nonreactive pupil following resuscitation. Notwithstanding limitations related to the scope of the TCDB and attrition in follow-up material, the results indicate a characteristic pattern of neurobehavioral recovery from severe head injury and encourage the use of neurobehavioral outcome measurements in clinical trials to evaluate interventions for head-injured patients.

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M. Ross Bullock, Randall E. Merchant, Sung C. Choi, Charlotte B. Gilman, Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, Anthony Marmarou and Graham M. Teasdale

Under the auspices of the American Brain Injury Consortium and the Joint Section of Neurotrauma and Critical Care of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the authors have reviewed and formulated opinions based on the evidence on protocol design and the outcome measures used for clinical trials in patients with a severe or moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI). First, in view of the heterogeneity of the population under study, the authors suggest that block randomization and stratification should always be used in the design of neurotrauma trials. Second, although the Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) remains the most widely used and accepted instrument for TBI trials, the authors believe the eight-point expanded scale that has recently been designed will ultimately provide greater discrimination, and narrower categories and will ultimately prove superior for detecting more subtle changes in outcome. Furthermore, the authors recommend, in view of the profound cognitive impairment in survivors of TBI, that neuropsychological tests be explored further as an adjunct to the GOS. Future research should focus on the development of more sensitive and specific surrogate outcome measures such as magnetic resonance imaging, neurochemical, neuropsychological, and quality of life measures in order to detect a neuroprotective effect in patients with TBI.