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Year, Volume, Issue, Page(s):

, 44, 2, 207-215


Introduction: Understanding the impact of disease on function and improving functional outcomes is an important goal of rehabilitation. This scoping review analyzes 25 years of published traumatic brain injury (TBI) clinical rehabilitation research (CRR) to determine the frequency with which function is a research goal.

Methods: The review protocol was prepared by experienced clinical researchers in the field. We used these search terms: "moderate traumatic brain injury" and "severe traumatic brain injury" and "functional outcomes"; and "rehabilitation" and "educational outcomes" or "cognition" or "community roles" or "community integration" "behavior" or "neuropsychology" or "quality of life", or "vocational outcomes" or "work" or "return to work". Publications from January 1, 1990-December 31, 2016 were included.

Results: 1,815 articles met initial criteria, of which 202 were intervention studies, 84 were randomized controlled trials and 353 prospective non-intervention studies. The combination of intervention and prospective non-intervention studies (n = 555) were analyzed for the kind of measurement tools used. Impairment measures (60%) and symptom measures (43%) either singly or in combination were most frequently used. Measures of function were employed in fewer than 30%. For single outcomes, 95 publications used impairment measures, 60 used symptoms and only18 used function. There were 117 studies that used neurocognitive measures. Participation/societal integration evaluation tools were used for community integration(n = 77) employment (n = 50) and independent living status (n = 37).

Discussion: This scoping review identifies a need for additional types of clinical research in the field of TBI CRR. Much of the research is aimed at mitigating impairment and controlling symptoms rather than promoting function. Future efforts by the CRR community studying TBI should address this need.


Lynn H Gerber, Haley Bush, Cindy Cai, Steven Garfinkel, Leighton Chan, Bridget Cotner, Amy Wagner