Residual impairments and work status 15 years after penetrating head injury: Report from the Vietnam head injury study

Karen Schwab, Jordan Grafman, Andres M. Salazar, Joan Kraft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

84 Scopus citations

Abstract

We investigated the relationship of neurologic, neuropsychological, and social interaction impairments to the work status of a large sample of penetrating head-injured patients wounded some 15 years earlier during combat in Vietnam. Extensive standardized testing of neurologic, neuropsychological, and social functioning was done at follow-up on each head-injured patient (N = 520), as well as on a sample of uninjured controls (N = 85). Fifty-six percent of the head-injured patients were working at follow-up compared with 82% of the uninjured controls. Seven systematically defined impairments proved to be most correlated with work status. These were post-traumatic epilepsy, paresis, visual field loss, verbal memory loss, visual memory loss, psychological problems, and violent behavior. These disabilities had a cumulative and nearly equipotent effect upon the likelihood of work. We suggest that a simple summed score of the number of these seven disabilities can yield a residual 'disability score' which may prove to be a practical tool for assessing the likelihood of return to work for patients in this population and perhaps in other brain-injured populations. These findings may also help to focus rehabilitation efforts on those disabilities most likely to affect return to work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-103
Number of pages9
JournalNeurology
Volume43
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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