Objective: To examine in a pilot cohort factors associated with functional outcome at discharge and 3-month follow-up after discharge from inpatient rehabilitation in children with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) who entered rehabilitation with the lowest level of functional skills.
Participants: Thirty-nine children and adolescents (3–18 years old) who sustained a severe TBI and had the lowest possible rating at rehabilitation admission on the Functional Independence Measure for Children (total score = 18).
Methods: Retrospective review of data collected as part of routine clinical care.
Results: At discharge, 59% of the children were partially dependent for basic activities, while 41% remained dependent for basic activities. Initial Glasgow Coma Scale score, time to follow commands, and time from injury to rehabilitation admission were correlated with functional status at discharge. Time to follow commands and time from injury to rehabilitation admission were correlated with functional status at 3-month follow-up. Changes in functional status during the first few weeks of admission were associated with functional status at discharge and follow-up.
Conclusions: Even children with the most severe brain injuries, who enter rehabilitation completely dependent for all daily activities, have the potential to make significant gains in functioning by discharge and in the following few months. Assessment of functional status early in the course of rehabilitation contributes to the ability to predict outcome from severe TBI.