Long-term outcome of head injuries: a 23 year follow up study of children with head injuries.
The purpose of the 23 year follow up study was to determine the relationship between trauma variables including measures of head injury and very long-term sequelae. The study included 159 individuals with a mean age 31.40 years, of whom approximately 90% were admitted to hospital with a mild head injury during childhood (mean age 7.96). Extent of head injury was determined by unconsciousness, neurological status, skull fracture, EEG, post-traumatic seizures and a composite measure. The composite measure of neurological variables was the best predictor of long-term outcome. In addition, IQ recorded in the post-acute phase was a reliable predictor of long-term outcome. Of the sample, 32.7% reported physical complaints and 17.6% reported current psychological/psychiatric problems unrelated to the head injury. Subjective sequelae (physical, intellectual and emotional) specified as due to the head injury were reported by 31% of the sample, and the sequelae were found to be related to the extent of the head injury and initial IQ. There were no discernible relationships between attribute variables including premorbid status and age with subjective sequelae. There were, however, significant relationships between subjective sequelae and objective, psychosocial measures of adaptation including educational lag, unemployment, current psychological/psychiatric problems and relationships with family members. Finally, there appeared to be continuity of complaints elicited during the five year follow up of the original project and current sequelae. The severity of the head injury was identified as the primary contributory factor in the reconstitution process and in the prediction of long term outcomes.