Clinician examining brain scans

What is the study about?

This study examined the trajectories of functional outcomes and independence up to five years post-injury for individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI) that required in-patient rehabilitation.

What did the study find?

This study found that many individuals with TBI notice functional improvement in the first two years postinjury. This was followed by a decrease in both functioning and independence by five years. However, trajectories differed extensively across individuals. Patterns of improvement followed by decline was the average trajectory for these participants. Many participants continued to improve for many years. Various factors such as older age, non-white race, longer inpatient rehabilitation stay, public payor source and lower discharge functional status at were found to negatively impact trajectories over time.

Who participated in the study?

Participants in this study (n=4624) were individuals with TBI and had to be at least 16 years of age or older.

How was the study conducted?

After discharge, participants were followed using an assessment protocol (i.e., phone interviews) 1, 2, and 5 years postinjury rating global disability and needs for supervision.

How can people use the results?

Clinicians can use these findings to target recipients in need of help to maximize functional independence and prevent decline.


Dams-Oconnor, K., Ketchum, J. M., Cuthbert, J. P., Corrigan, J. D., Hammond, F. M., Haarbauer-Krupa, J., . . . Miller, A. C. (2020). Functional Outcome Trajectories Following Inpatient Rehabilitation for TBI in the United States: A NIDILRR TBIMS and CDC Interagency Collaboration. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 35(2), 127-139. doi:10.1097/htr.0000000000000484


The contents of this quick review were developed under a grant (number H133A110004) from the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.