The medical study of Traumatic Brain Injury often focuses on young people who have sustained closed head injuries from playing sports or from dangerous risks that teens sometimes foolishly participate in to impress their friends. But the Journal of the American College of Surgeons recently published a new study focused on adult closed head injuries caused by blunt force trauma. This would include those head injuries sustained during a car accident or other fall. While these causes might be less common than injuries caused by youth sports, there are nevertheless hundreds of thousands of cases per year in the United States.
The study, released earlier this month by researchers at Wake Forest University, seeks to verify which methods of predicting brain injury severity hold the most validly for closed head injuries caused by adult blunt force trauma.
“This tool may allow us to have an informed conversation with family members of elderly patients with isolated traumatic brain injury. We can tell them the chances of survival and discharge to an independent status based on outcomes in similarly injured patients in this large study population.” [source]
Predictive tools are critical in deciding how and when to treat patients suffering from closed head injuries. Among people 65 and older, the rate of hospitalization for a closed head injury 156 people for every 100,000. That’s more than double the rate of the general population.
‘To help develop their model, the team of researchers from Wake Forest University evaluated data from 57,888 patients in the National Trauma Data Bank, focusing on those over 50 who had isolated trauma from blunt trauma.
‘We wanted to come up with a predictive equation that could be applied early in the patients’ hospitalization with things that were easily available rather than a model that uses a lot of calculations and a lot of going back and digging through patient charts,’ Dr. Miller said.”
The predictive model that researchers found most effective is one that includes age, gender, and the Glasgow Coma Scale. The GCS determined a patient’s responsiveness based on eye, verbal, and motor skills and was predictive of how effective a patient’s treatment could be. Researchers are now taking steps to bring this important screening tool to doctors everywhere. They say the next step is to develop an app for tablets and phones that will assist doctors in evaluating older patients with blunt force closed head injuries.