This report presents information on a cohort of 23,445 patients aged under 65 who were hospitalised with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) between 1 July 2013 and 30 June 2015 in 4 Australian jurisdictions. Using linked data, it examines patient pathways and health service utilisation during the initial TBI hospitalisation, and two years before and after the initial TBI hospitalisation.

Key findings

Most TBI patients in the cohort were male (70%) and almost a quarter (24%) were young (aged 15 to 24).

Around half of TBIs occurred either on roads (22%), at home (17%) or in a sporting setting (12%). Most TBI patients experienced their injury as a result of either a fall (39%), a transport crash (31%) or assault (12%).

Following the injury, TBI patients typically arrived at an emergency department (ED) first (93%) before being admitted. In the ED, most patients (77%) were treated as requiring relatively urgent care (assigned to the emergency and urgent triage categories) and 13% of the cohort needed immediate resuscitative care. Concussion was the most common TBI-related diagnosis (74%).

In hospital, TBI patients stayed an average of 6.8 days, but half received no procedures at all, generally staying in hospital for observation. The other half of patients received an average of 5.7 procedures each, mainly allied health interventions such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy, and general anaesthesia or sedation.

Following hospitalisation, TBI patients received an increased number of Medicare services (going from 38% of the cohort receiving services in the month prior to hospitalisation to 65% in the month after hospitalisation). These were most commonly for diagnostic imaging, specialist services, and non-referred attendances, such as GP and allied health services.

The cohort also had more prescriptions dispensed under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) in the month after hospitalisation (30% to 43%). The medications with the largest increases in number of patients receiving them were analgesics, anti-epileptics, and anti-thrombotics (used to prevent embolisms).

Relatively few people in the cohort (42; <0.2%) died of TBI-related causes following their injury. This report does not include information on the rates of disability and impairment resulting from TBI or the broader impacts on mental health and families.