Psychological Outcomes


Despite the significant amount of literature on psychosocial issues following brain injury in the younger population, very little is known about how older adults fare. One study found older adults with brain injuries suffered from significantly more psychosocial dysfunction, psychological distress and post-concussive symptoms than controls (Goldstein & Levin 1995). Neurobehavioural/emotional disorders have been found in older adults following TBI (Goldstein & Levin 1995; Levin et al. 1997; Goldstein et al. 1999; Goldstein et al. 2001). However, a more recent study found that younger individuals did not differ significantly from the older brain injury population in levels of anxiety and depressive disorders (Whelan-Goodinson et al. 2010). While many of the cognitive changes have been noted five months post-injury, psychosocial distress may become apparent several years post injury (Oddy et al. 1978).

Psychosocial rehabilitation within older adults should be considered, as quite often inpatient rehabilitation focuses on physical and cognitive gains. One of the most troublesome psychological conditions afflicting those with TBI is major depression. Issues related to spousal relationships and family functioning are also common among the older TBI population. Caregivers should be a part of the rehabilitation planning process (Dikmen et al. 1995) and support services should be available to both the individual with TBI and their support network (Uomoto 2008).