Objective: To compare long-term functional outcome trajectories of individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI) who survive with those who expire more than 5 years postinjury, using individual growth curve analysis.
Design: Secondary analysis of data from a multicenter longitudinal cohort study.
Setting: Acute inpatient rehabilitation facilities that are current or former TBI Model Systems.
Participants: Individuals 16 years and older with a primary diagnosis of TBI.
Main Outcome Measures: Glasgow Outcome Scale–Extended; Disability Rating Scale.
Results: Individuals in the TBI Model Systems who expire several years after injury demonstrate worse functional status at baseline and a steeper rate of decline over time as measured by both the Glasgow Outcome Scale–Extended and the Disability Rating Scale. There was significant variability in each growth parameter (P < .05) for both instruments. A reduced model was built for each outcome, including all covariates that related significantly to the growth parameters. An interactive tool was created for each outcome to generate individual-level trajectories based on various combinations of covariate values.
Conclusion: Individuals with TBI who die several years after injury demonstrate functional trajectories that differ markedly from those of survivors. Opportunities should be sought for health management interventions to improve health and longevity after TBI.