Characteristics of a mild head injury subgroup with extreme, persisting distress on the Rivermead Postconcussion Symptoms questionnaire

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Journal Article
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2010, vol. 91, issue 1, pp 35-42
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Objective: To examine baseline variables and identify characteristics of participants with extremely high reports of symptoms (ie, outliers) 12 months after mild head injury (MHI). Design: A prospective cohort study of MHI with and without loss of consciousness (LOC) and/or posttraumatic amnesia (PTA) recruited from and interviewed at the emergency department (ED), with a follow-up telephone interview at 12 months. Setting: Level II community hospital ED. Participants: Participants (n 58) with MHI and LOC less than or equal to 30 minutes and/or PTA less than 24 hours and participants (n 173) with MHI but no PTA/LOC. Inclusion criteria: age greater than or equal to 18 years, less than or equal to 24 hours after injury, Glasgow Coma Scale score greater than or equal to 13, and discharge from the ED. Fourteen (6%) participants had extremely high scores on the Rivermead Postconcussion Symptoms Questionnaire (RPQ). Main Outcome Measures: RPQ and questions on health services use and litigation. Results: Characterizing the outlier cases are prior head injury, preinjury disability, history of substance use, unemployment, and elevated somatic symptoms at the ED. At 12 months,outliers had higher use of health services and litigation. Conclusions: The existence of a subgroup with a distinctive pattern of baseline characteristics in combination with elevated somatic symptoms at the time of presentation to the ED suggests that further taxonomic distinctions may be warranted for the MHI population, each requiring appropriately targeted.
Kirsch, N.L., de Leon, M.B., Maio, R.F., Millis, S.R., Tan-Schriner, C.U., & Frederiksen, S.
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