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Long-Term Outcomes after Injury in the Elderly

Inaba, Kenji MD, MS; Goecke, Michelle MD, MS; Sharkey, Philip MHK; Brenneman, Frederick MD, FRCSC, FACS

Journal of Trauma-Injury Infection & Critical Care: March 2003 - Volume 54 - Issue 3 - pp 486-491
Original Articles

Background : The lasting impact of injury on lifestyle in the elderly remains poorly defined. The purpose of this study was to determine the long-term quality-of-life outcomes in elderly trauma patients.

Methods : The trauma registry at a regional trauma center was used to identify hospital survivors of injury ≥ 65 years old discharged from April 1996 to March 1999. The 36-Item Short Form (SF-36) Health Survey was administered to this group by telephone interview and the scores compared with age-adjusted Canadian norms. Comparisons with t test were made for continuous data.

Results : Complete data collection was achieved in 128 of 171 (75%) study patients. The mean Injury Severity Score was 21, the mean initial Glasgow Coma Scale score was 13, and the mean age was 74. Most (97%) were victims of blunt trauma. Compared with Canadian age-adjusted norms, there was a significant (p < 0.05) decrease in seven of eight SF-36 domains: Physical Functioning, Role-Physical and Role-Emotional (limitations secondary to physical and emotional health), Social Functioning, Mental Health, Vitality, and General Health. Before injury, most (98%) were living independently at home. However, at long-term follow-up (mean, 2.8 years; range, 1.5–4.5 years), only 63% were living independently and 20% still required home care.

Conclusion : Although the majority of elderly injury survivors achieve independent living, long-term follow-up indicates significant residual disability in quality of life as measured by the SF-36.

From the Department of Surgery, Sunnybrook and Women’s College Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Submitted for publication August 16, 2001.

Accepted for publication November 25, 2002.

Presented at the 4th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australasian Trauma Society in conjunction with the Trauma Association of Canada, March 2–4, 2001, Sydney, Australia.

Address for reprints: Frederick D. Brenneman, MD, FRCSC, FACS, Trauma Program, Sunnybrook and Women’s College Health Sciences Centre, C-135, 2075 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M4N 3M5, Canada; email:

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.