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Blunt Force Trauma versus Firearm Related Brain Injury

Categories: Firearm Related Brain Injury

Past Studies

Past Studies have been conducted mainly on military personnel. Recently, several studies have reported on the outcome of civilians with firearm related brain injuries. Studies about the long-term outcomes of persons with firearm related brain injuries are lacking. Studies comparing the outcomes of persons with violence related brain injuries from gunshot wounds versus blunt trauma are scarce. Few studies have looked at specific functional outcomes of violent injury survivors.

Prior studies have used the Glasgow Coma Scale as a tool to measure outcome. The Glasgow Coma Scale is limited for such use because it does not posses the precision to measure functional outcome. Using the Glasgow Coma scale, researchers did note a trend towards worse prognosis for injuries caused by blunt trauma.

This Study

This Study examined 25 persons that had sustained blunt injuries and 25 persons with firearm relatedbrain injuries as the result of a violent act. Their abilities were compared before and after participation in inpatient rehabilitation. Outcome scales believed to be more sensitive than the Glasgow Coma Scale were used, such as the Disability Rating Scale, Rancho Los Amigos Scale, and Functional Independence Measure. The results revealed little difference in outcome between violent injury groups.

Who May Be Affected By These Findings

Persons with violence related traumatic brain injury, family members, service providers, funders, and advocates.


The group studied was small with similar socioeconomic factors. The researchers suspect that the comparable socioeconomic status accounts for much of the similarity in the group’s outcome from inpatient rehabilitation. Larger studies from diverse populations may provide results that are more generalizable.

Bottom Line

No significant differences were found between the groups for any of the outcome variables. Although firearm related injuries might have a higher initial death rate, persons who survive to come to rehabilitation appear to have similar outcomes to those persons with non-firearm related brain injuries. Larger trials are needed to better address the concerns of persons with violence related injuries.

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Find This Study

Zafonte, R. D.; Mann, N. R.; Millis, S. R.; Wood, D. L.; Lee, C. Y.; & Black, K. L. (1997). Functional outcome after violence related traumatic brain injury. Brain Injury, (11), 403-407.