Original research| Volume 96, ISSUE 12, P2128-2136, December 2015

Ten-Year Employment Patterns of Working Age Individuals After Moderate to Severe Traumatic Brain Injury: A National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems Study

Published:August 13, 2015DOI:



      To describe the 10-year patterns of employment for individuals of working age discharged from a Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems (TBIMS) center between 1989 and 2009.


      Secondary data analysis.


      Inpatient rehabilitation centers.


      Patients aged 16 to 55 years (N=3618) who were not retired at injury, received inpatient rehabilitation at a TBIMS center, were discharged alive between 1989 and 2009, and had at least 3 completed follow-up interviews at postinjury years 1, 2, 5, and 10.


      Not applicable.

      Main Outcomes Measure



      Patterns of employment were generated using a generalized linear mixed model, where these patterns were transformed into temporal trajectories of probability of employment via random effects modeling. Covariates demonstrating significant relations to growth parameters that govern the trajectory patterns were similar to those noted in previous cross-sectional research and included age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, preinjury substance misuse, preinjury vocational status, and days of posttraumatic amnesia. The calendar year in which the injury occurred also greatly influenced trajectories. An interactive tool was developed to provide visualization of all postemployment trajectories, with many showing decreasing probabilities of employment between 5 and 10 years postinjury.


      These results highlight that postinjury employment after moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a dynamic process, with varied patterns of employment for individuals with specific characteristics. The overall decline in trajectories of probability of employment between 5 and 10 years postinjury suggests that moderate to severe TBI may have unfavorable chronic effects and that employment outcome is highly influenced by national labor market forces. Additional research targeting the underlying drivers of the decline between 5 and 10 years postinjury is recommended, as are interventions that target influencing factors.


      List of abbreviations:

      NDB (National Database), PTA (posttraumatic amnesia), TBI (traumatic brain injury), TBIMS (Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems)
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