Trajectories of cognitive recovery following a minor brain injury



Minor brain injury (MBI) is the most frequently diagnosed head trauma in the United States, with treatment costing more than $1.5 billion annually and many patients incapacitated for months following injury. The purpose of this study was to characterize the brain function disruptions associated with MBI and to determine the time trajectory of recovery, using a theoretical model of attention. Distractibility, impulsivity, irritability, and impaired executive functioning were demonstrated in all participants during the 24 hr after injury. Twenty percent of participants continued to complain of distractibility, impulsivity, and/or irritability throughout the 30-day study. Loss of consciousness was shown to confound participants' healing trajectories. These results suggest that standard emergency room treatment following MBI is inadequate and should include discharge directives to reduce cognitive demands for at least 48 hr at a minimum, for 30 days or longer for those with loss of consciousness. © 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Res Nurs Health 25:269–281, 2002