This Journal of Neurotrauma prospective longitudinal study reports recovery from mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) across multiple domains in a carefully selected consecutive sample of 74 previously healthy adults. The patients with MTBI and 40 orthopedic controls (i.e., ankle injuries) completed assessments at 1, 6, and 12 months after injury. Outcome measures included cognition, post-concussion symptoms, depression, traumatic stress, quality of life, satisfaction with life, resilience, and return to work. Patients with MTBI reported more post-concussion symptoms and fatigue than the controls at the beginning of recovery, but by 6 months after injury, did not differ as a group from nonhead injury trauma controls on cognition, fatigue, or mental health, and by 12 months, their level of post-concussion symptoms and quality of life was similar to that of controls. Almost all (96%) patients with MTBI returned to work/normal activities (RTW) within the follow-up of 1 year. A subgroup of those with MTBIs and controls reported mild post-concussion-like symptoms at 1 year.
A large percentage of the subgroup who had persistent symptoms had a modifiable psychological risk factor at 1 month (i.e., depression, traumatic stress, and/or low resilience), and at 6 months, they had greater post-concussion symptoms, fatigue, insomnia, traumatic stress, and depression, and worse quality of life. All of the control subjects who had mild post-concussion-like symptoms at 12 months also had a mental health problem (i.e., depression, traumatic stress, or both). This illustrates the importance of providing evidence-supported treatment and rehabilitation services early in the recovery period.