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All Abstracts

Rehospitalization Rates

20% for Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injuries

Categories: Recovery - Long Term

The Question

What are the causes and number of rehospitalizations for individuals after traumatic brain injury?

Past Studies

Past Studies Individuals with disabilities tend to have higher medical costs than the general population. Healthcare providers are challenged to reduce the cost of medical care and rehabilitation. To keep costs down, there has been a trend for individuals to spend fewer days in the hospital and rehabilitation settings. Past studies show that individuals with disabilities have higher rates than the general population for returning to the hospital for medical care. In spite of this, there is little information about the medical causes and the number of individuals with traumatic brain injury who are re-hospitalized after they leave inpatient rehabilitation.

This Study

This study included 655 individuals with traumatic brain injury from four Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems inpatient rehabilitation facilities. The researchers gathered information about the participants’ injuries, recoveries, and payer sources from their medical records. Information about rehospitalization was obtained from participant and significant other interviews at one, two, and three years after the discharge date from inpatient rehabilitation.

The researchers classified the reasons for rehospitalization into two categories. Hospitalizations related to seizures, nervous system disorders, mental disorders, and infections were classified as “nonelective.” Hospitalizations related to bone and joint surgery and reconstructive surgery were categorized as general health maintenance and were considered “elective.”

The researchers found that each year 20% of the individuals were rehospitalized. About half of the rehospitalizations were for elective reasons. The most frequent causes of elective rehospitalizations were for bone and joint surgery, reconstructive surgery, infections, and general health maintenance. After the first year, the number of individuals with nonelective rehospitalizations increased. The most frequent reasons for nonelective rehospitalizations were seizures and mental health problems.

Who May Be Affected By These Findings

Individuals with traumatic brain injury and their loved ones, healthcare providers, administrators, insurers, life care planners, and researchers.


The researchers did not find an association between rehospitalization and the participants’ injuries, recoveries, and payer sources. This finding differs from similar studies on individuals with stroke and spinal cord injuries.

Bottom Line

In this study, 20% of all individuals were rehospitalized one to three years after the date of their traumatic brain injuries. Orthopedic or reconstructive surgery, infection care, and general health maintenance were the most frequent reasons for rehospitalizations. The researchers state that the cost of rehospitalization should be considered when evaluating the long-term consequences of traumatic brain injury.

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Find This Study


Cifu, D.X., Kreutzer, J.S., Marwitz, J.H., Miller, M., Hsu, G.M., Seel, R.T., Englander, J., High, W.M., & Zafonte, R. (1999). Etiology and incidence of rehospitalization after traumatic brain injury: A multicenter analysis. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 80, 85-90.

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