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NJ Researchers Link Functional Independence on Admission with Early Recovery in Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury

scientist amanda botticello  wearing a black suit

This is the first study in more than a decade to report on the differential gains between children with traumatic vs nontraumatic brain injury.

East Hanover, NJ. May 25, 2018. A team of New Jersey brain injury researchers has published the first pediatric study linking functional level on admission with the likelihood of functional gains during rehabilitation. The study is also the first in more than a decade to report on the differential gains between children with traumatic vs nontraumatic brain injury. “The Effect of Admission Functional Independence on Early Recovery in Pediatric Traumatic and Nontraumatic Brain Injury," was published in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation (doi: 10.1097/HTR.0000000000000374). The authors are Cherylynn Marino, PhD, Amanda Botticello, PhD, MPH, Julia Coyne, PhD, Michael Dribbon, PhD, and John DeLuca, PhD.

Drs. Marino and Coyne are affiliated with Kessler Foundation and Children’s Specialized Hospital. Drs. Botticello and DeLuca are with Kessler Foundation, and Dr. Dribbon is affiliated with Children’s Specialized. The article is available at:

The researchers looked at the records of 531 children with acquired brain injury (298 with traumatic brain injury [TBI] and 233 with nontraumatic brain injury [nTBI]), comparing the predictive value of their baseline functional independence on rehabilitation outcomes. The children’s self-care, mobility and cognition were assessed using WeeFIM, a multidimensional measure of functional independence, upon their admission to inpatient rehabilitation, and at discharge.

Overall, children with TBI were likely to make larger gains than children with nTBI. For both groups, high mobility on admission was associated with large gains. Among those with low mobility, however, children with TBI were much more likely to make large gains than their counterparts with nTBI. Children with nTBI who had low or high functional levels at admission were likely to have smaller gains and slower recovery, in comparison with the outcomes after TBI.

"These results show the value of measuring functional independence in children at the start of their brain injury rehabilitation process,” said Dr. Marino, the lead author. “This will enable us to provide better counseling for the parents of these children, and lays the groundwork for tailoring treatments to optimize outcomes for children recovering from brain injury.”  

Children’s Specialized Hospital

Children’s Specialized Hospital is the nation’s leading provider of inpatient and outpatient care for children from birth to 21 years of age facing special health challenges—from chronic illnesses and complex physical disabilities like brain and spinal cord injuries, to developmental and behavioral issues like autism and mental health. At 13 different New Jersey locations, our pediatric specialists partner with families to make our many innovative therapies and medical treatments more personalized and each child can reach their full potential.

About Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit

For more information, or to interview an expert, contact: Carolann Murphy, 973.324.8382,

Submitted by lviglione on Fri, 05/25/2018 - 14:24