Cambridge brain injury research highlights global inequality in causes and treatment

Research from experts at the University of Cambridge has highlighted regional inequalities in major causes and treatment of brain injury in a study they claim is the largest ever in this area. 

This month, the international Global Neurotrauma Outcomes study was published in The Lancet Neurology


Funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), researchers leading the study hope the results will improve patient outcomes and support decision making. 


Peter Hutchinson, director of the NIHR Global Neurotrauma Research Group, said: 

“This is the largest study in the world looking at the surgical management of head injuries, and will be of practical value to clinicians and others planning strategies for the future.

The collaboration across such a vast number of hospitals and countries, together with the support of the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies and continental neurosurgical societies, has been phenomenal.”


The study 

The research sought to provide an overview of the similarities and differences in the management and outcomes of patients who receive emergency surgery for traumatic brain injury worldwide. It focuses on the outcomes for patients in high and low human development indexes (HDI), which considers factors like life expectancy, education and income.

1,635 patients from 159 hospitals in 57 countries took part, with data on demographics, injury, timing and nature of the surgery, post-operative care, and short term outcomes, for up to 14 days. 



The observational study found that patients in the low HDI tier were younger, experienced mild brain injury, and injury usually followed an assault. In medium and high HDI countries, patients had moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury caused by a road traffic collision. In the highest HDI countries, patients were older, and their injuries followed falls. 


Angelos Kolias, NIHR Global Neurotrauma Research Group associate director, said: 

“The results show that overall mortality is low, reflecting the life-saving nature of surgery for traumatic brain injuries. Many of these patients would have died without an operation. However, we also need to address deficits in prehospital management and long-term rehabilitation.”


Brain injury expertise with NRC Medical Experts

Though doctors are an essential part of any rehabilitation team, the UK has one of the lowest number of rehabilitation doctors in the developed world – just 0.2 per 100,000 per head of population when compared with 1.9 (Sweden), 2.0 (Germany), 2.9 (France) and 3.7 (Italy).

NRC’s Consultants in Rehabilitation Medicine provide highly sought after expertise in neurological rehabilitation following a traumatic brain injury. 

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 Watch the Global Neurotrauma Outcomes study video: