Traumatic head injuries (THI) are a critical public health problem worldwide, with more than 10 million individuals affected every year. In Saudi Arabia (SA), the burden of THI is unknown even though injury is the leading cause of death and a major cause of disability. Therefore, we aim to estimate the prevalence of long-term of disabilities among survivors of THI treated at a large level-I trauma center in Riyadh.
The study included 258 patients, who were hospitalized due to a non-fatal THI between years 2005-2014. Patients (age = 16-60 years) were contacted via the phone and information about their Activity of Daily Living (ADL) and Instrumental Activity of Daily Living (IADL) was ascertained. Univariate analyses were performed to examine patients' characteristics and to estimate the prevalence of any disability. Logistic regression was used to evaluate independent predictors of long-term disability.
Respondents were relatively young (mean age = 24.8; SD = 9.8), predominantly males (92.7%) and the majority sustained THI following traffic crashes (91.4%). The average time since the injury was 6.8 years (range = 3-12, SD = 2.6). Close to third of the sample (32.5%) reported at least some limitations in ADL or IADL. Regression analysis suggests that a one-unit increase in Revised Trauma Scale (RTS) was associated with 31% lower odds of disability adjusting for other covariates. While responders with a below high school education were 4.7 times more likely to report a disability than those with at least a college degree (P < 0.05).
THI was associated with significant limitations in various aspects of everyday life. The magnitude and impact of THI in Saudi Arabia requires public health measures to prevent these injuries and to improve their health outcomes. Advocates may use these findings to educate the public about secondary and tertiary prevention and elicit support from policymakers to facilitate interventions toward reducing THI's associated disabilities.