Evaluating Time Points for Measuring Recovery After Major Trauma in Adults

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To evaluate recovery after major trauma over a 24-month time frame.


Measuring disability after injury is seen as increasingly important but requires knowledge not only of the measures that should be implemented but also of the critical time points for follow-up.


Six hundred sixty-two adult major trauma patients from 2 level 1 trauma centers (October 2006 to March 2007) were followed up by telephone at 6-, 12-, 18-, and 24 months after injury. SF-12, Glasgow Outcome Scale-Extended (GOS-E), pain scores, and return to work (RTW) were collected. Multilevel mixed-effects regression models were fitted to analyze change in outcomes over time.


Six hundred seventeen (93%) were followed up for at least 1 time point. Functional recovery (GOS-E = 8) [odds ratio (OR) 3.1, 95% CI: 1.9, 5.0] and RTW (OR 2.4, 95% CI: 1.4, 4.0) improved, and physical health (PCS-12) scores were better (mean difference 1.9, 95% CI: 0.9, 2.9), from 6 to 12 months after injury, but changed little from 12 months. Pain scores were unchanged from 6 to 12 months but were higher at 18 months than at 12 months (OR 1.8, 95% CI: 1.2, 2.8). SF-12 mental health (MCS-12) scores decreased until 18 months but improved from 18 to 24 months (mean difference 1.5, 95% CI: 0.2, 2.8). The rate of recovery differed by injury group and age.


Different patterns of recovery were evident for each outcome, and there was a variation in the rate of recovery for some subgroups. The selection of time points for follow-up requires consideration of the outcome measurements of interest and the population being studied.

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