Objectives. To examine the consequences of head injury and the medical, economic, and sociodemographic factors affecting functional status 1 year after injury.

Methods. A follow-up was conducted on 95 children (aged 5 to 15) 1 year after they were hospitalized for head injury. Parents were interviewed by phone concerning their child's preinjury and current health status, and the family's economic and social resources during the 1 year postinjury. Inpatient medical records were reviewed to obtain information regarding the characteristics of the injury.

Results. We found that study children were more likely than children from the general population to have limitations in physical health, behavioral problems, and to be enrolled in a special education program. These findings were true for all levels of head injury severity, although children with severe head injuries (Abbreviated Injury Scale 5) were more likely to demonstrate these functional limitations than were children with less severe injuries (Abbreviated Injury Scale 2, 3, 4). After controlling for head injury severity, we found that the poorer outcomes were associated with poverty, preinjury chronic health problems, and lower extremity injuries.

Conclusions. The large proportion of children who demonstrated functional limitations underscores the importance of evaluating all children hospitalized with head injuries for functional limitations and providing rehabilitation and social services when needed.

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