Undiagnosed health issues in individuals with traumatic brain injury living in the community

Mary R. Hibbard, Suzan Uysal, Martin John Sliwinski, Wayne A. Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Objectives: To examine the self-reported prevalence of long-term health issues in individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI) living in the community. Design: A structured health interview. For individuals with TBI, the presence of a specific health-related issue with onset post-TBI and currently a problem at the time of the interview was explored. For individuals without disability, a specific health-related issue was evaluated at time of interview. For each health issue, the proportion of individuals with TBI experiencing post-TBI onset but current symptoms was contrasted with symptom reports of individuals without disability. Chi-square statistical analyses were used to determine significance. For individuals with TBI, logistic regressions were used to model the probability of having a particular health difficulty when four covariates were examined, such as age, gender, time since onset of TBI, and duration of loss of consciousness (LOC). Setting: Urban, suburban, and rural New York State. Participants: 338 individuals with TBI and 273 individuals without disability between the ages of 18 and 65 years. Individuals with TBI were, on average, 10 years post-onset at the time of interview. Main Outcome Measures: Self-reported health issues reflective of neuroendocrine, neurological, immunosuppression, and other health issues. Results: Chronic health issues suggestive of ongoing neuroendocrine dysfunctions (ie, changes in hair/skin texture, body temperature changes), neurologic difficulties (ie, headaches, seizures, balance difficulties, spasticity, sleep disturbances, loss of urinary control), and arthritic complaints were significantly more common in individuals with TBI. The prevalence of many of these health-related difficulties was related to duration of LOC but not to time since injury. Age and gender effects were found, with older women with TBI more likely to report thyroid conditions, sleep disturbances loss of urinary control, and arthritic changes. Women also reported greater frequency of headaches, colds, weight changes, and temperature changes post TBI. Conclusion: Health issues reflective of neuroendocrine, neurological, and arthritic difficulties are common long-term health issues for individuals with TBI. Proactive patient education, ongoing health screening with appropriate medical follow-up, and timely interventions for individuals with TBI are indicated. Longitudinal studies are necessary to examine the natural course of post-TBI health difficulties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-57
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Neurology


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