Traumatic brain injury: integrated approaches to improve prevention, clinical care, and research

Andrew I R Maas, David K Menon, P David Adelson, Nada Andelic, Michael J Bell, Antonio Belli, Peter Bragge, Alexandra Brazinova, András Büki, Randall M Chesnut, Giuseppe Citerio, Mark Coburn, D Jamie Cooper, A Tamara Crowder, Endre Czeiter, Marek Czosnyka, Ramon Diaz-Arrastia, Jens P Dreier, Ann-Christine Duhaime, Ari ErcoleThomas A van Essen, Valery L Feigin, Guoyi Gao, Joseph Giacino, Laura E Gonzalez-Lara, Russell L Gruen, Deepak Gupta, Jed A Hartings, Sean Hill, Ji-Yao Jiang, Naomi Ketharanathan, Erwin J O Kompanje, Linda Lanyon, Steven Laureys, Fiona Lecky, Harvey Levin, Hester F Lingsma, Marc Maegele, Marek Majdan, Geoffrey Manley, Jill Marsteller, Luciana Mascia, Charles McFadyen, Stefania Mondello, Virginia Newcombe, Aarno Palotie, Paul M Parizel, Wilco Peul, James Piercy, William Stewart, InTBIR Participants and Investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

571 Citations (Scopus)


A concerted effort to tackle the global health problem posed by traumatic brain injury (TBI) is long overdue. TBI is a public health challenge of vast, but insufficiently recognised, proportions. Worldwide, more than 50 million people have a TBI each year, and it is estimated that about half the world's population will have one or more TBIs over their lifetime. TBI is the leading cause of mortality in young adults and a major cause of death and disability across all ages in all countries, with a disproportionate burden of disability and death occurring in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). It has been estimated that TBI costs the global economy approximately $US400 billion annually. Deficiencies in prevention, care, and research urgently need to be addressed to reduce the huge burden and societal costs of TBI. This Commission highlights priorities and provides expert recommendations for all stakeholders—policy makers, funders, health-care professionals, researchers, and patient representatives—on clinical and research strategies to reduce this growing public health problem and improve the lives of people with TBI.

The epidemiology of TBI is changing: in high-income countries, the number of elderly people with TBI is increasing, mainly due to falls, while in LMICs, the burden of TBI from road traffic incidents is increasing. Data on the frequency of TBI and TBI-related deaths and on the economic impact of brain trauma are often incomplete and vary between countries. Improved, accurate epidemiological monitoring and robust health-economic data collection are needed to inform health-care policy and prevention programmes. Highly developed and coordinated systems of care are crucial for management of patients with TBI. However, in practice, implementation of such frameworks varies greatly and disconnects exist in the chain of care. Optimisation of systems of care should be high on the policy agenda and could yield substantial gains in terms of both patient outcomes and costs to society.

TBI is a complex condition, and strong evidence to support treatment guidelines and recommendations is scarce. Most multicentre clinical trials of medical and surgical interventions have failed to show efficacy, despite promising preclinical results. At the bedside, treatment strategies are generally based on guidelines that promote a one-size-fits-all approach and are insufficiently targeted to the needs of individual patients. Attempts to individualise treatment are challenging owing to the diversity of TBI, and are hampered by the use of simplistic methods to characterise its initial type and severity. Advances in genomics, blood biomarkers, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and pathophysiological monitoring, combined with informatics to integrate data from multiple sources, offer new research avenues to improve disease characterisation and monitoring of disease evolution. These tools can also aid understanding of disease mechanisms and facilitate targeted treatment strategies for individual patients.

Individualised management in the postacute phase and evaluation of the effectiveness of treatment and care processes depend on accurate quantification of outcomes. In practice, however, the use of simplistic methods hinders efforts to quantify outcomes after TBI of all severities. Development and validation of multidimensional approaches will be essential to improve measurement of clinical outcomes, for both research and patient care. In particular, we need to find better ways to characterise the currently under-recognised risk of long-term disabling sequelae in patients with relatively mild injuries.

Prognostic models are important to help clinicians to provide reliable information to patients and relatives, and to facilitate comparative audit of care between centres and countries. There is an urgent need for further development, validation, and implementation of prognostic models in TBI, particularly for less severe TBI.

This multitude of challenges in TBI—encompassing systems of care, clinical management, and research strategy—demands novel approaches to the generation of new evidence and its implementation in clinical practice. Comparative effectiveness research (CER) offers opportunities to capitalise on the diversity of TBI and systems of care and enables assessment of therapies in real-world conditions; high-quality CER studies can provide strong evidence to support guideline recommendations. The global challenges posed by TBI necessitate global collaborations and a change in research culture to endorse broad data sharing.

This Commission covers a range of topics that need to be addressed to confront the global burden of TBI and reduce its effects on individuals and society: epidemiology (section 1); health economics (section 2); prevention (section 3); systems of care (section 4); clinical management (section 5); characterisation of TBI (section 6); outcome assessment (section 7); prognosis (section 8); and new directions for acquiring and implementing evidence (section 9). Table 1 summarises key messages from the Commission and provides recommendations to advance clinical care and research in TBI.

We must increase awareness of the scale of the challenge posed by TBI. If we are to tackle the individual and societal burden of TBI, these efforts need to go beyond a clinical and research audience and address the public, politicians, and other stakeholders. We need to develop and implement policies for better prevention and systems of care in order to improve outcomes for individuals with TBI. We also need a commitment to substantial long-term investment in TBI research across a range of disciplines to determine best practice and facilitate individualised management strategies. A combination of innovative research methods and global collaboration, and ways to effectively translate progress in basic and clinical research into clinical practice and public health policy, will be vital for progress in the field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)987-1048
JournalThe Lancet Neurology
Issue number12
Early online date6 Nov 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Nov 2017


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