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Community based rehabilitation after severe traumatic brain injury: a randomised controlled trial
  1. J Powell1,
  2. J Heslin1,
  3. R Greenwood2
  1. 1Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths College, Lewisham Way, New Cross, London SE14 6NW, UK
  2. 2Regional Neurological Rehabilitation Unit, Homerton Hospital, Homerton Row, London E9 6SR, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr J Powell, Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths College, Lewisham Way, New Cross, London SE14 6NW, UK;


Objective: Evaluation of multidisciplinary community based outreach rehabilitation after severe traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Methods: A randomised controlled trial compared outreach treatment (mean of two sessions a week for 27.3 (SD 19.1) weeks) in community settings such as participants' homes, day centres, or workplaces, with provision of written information detailing alternative resources. Follow up for an average of 24.8 months after initial allocation was by a blinded independent assessor. Participants were aged 16–65, had sustained severe TBI between 3 months and 20 years previously, and had no other neurological conditions. Of 110 initially allocated, 48 outreach and 46 information participants were successfully followed up. Primary outcome measures (Barthel index (BI) and the brain injury community rehabilitation outcome-39 (BICRO-39)) focused on levels of activity and participation. Secondary measures were the functional independence measure and the functional assessment measure (FIM+FAM) and, in a subgroup of 46 participants, the hospital anxiety and depression scale. Analyses were non-parametric.

Results: outreach participants were significantly more likely to show gains on the BI and the BICRO-39 total score and self organisation and psychological wellbeing subscales. There were likewise strong trends (p<0.10) for BICRO personal care and mobility, and on the FIM+FAM for personal care and cognitive functions. Differential improvements were not seen for indices of socialising, productive employment, anxiety, or depression. Median changes on individual subscales were small, reflecting the diversity of the clinical population; however, 40% of outreach but only 20% of information participants made a clinically significant improvement of 2+ points on at least one BICRO-39 scale. Time since injury was unrelated to the magnitude of gains.

Conclusions: This is the first RCT of multidisciplinary community rehabilitation after severe TBI, and suggests that even years after injury it can yield benefits which outlive the active treatment period.

  • acquired brain injury
  • community rehabilitation
  • disability
  • psychosocial outcome
  • TBI, traumatic brain injury
  • BI, Barthel index
  • BICRO-39, brain injury community rehabilitation outcome-39
  • MGI, maximum gain index
  • FIM+FAM, functional independence+assessment measure
  • PTA, post-traumatic amnesia
  • HADS, hospital anxiety and depression scale

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