Prevalence of fatigue and cognitive impairment after traumatic brain injury

Traver J. Wright, Timothy R. Elliott, Kathleen M. Randolph, Richard B. Pyles, Brent E. Masel, Randall J. Urban, Melinda Sheffield-Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Following traumatic brain injury (TBI) some patients develop lingering comorbid symptoms of fatigue and cognitive impairment. The mild cognitive impairment self-reported by patients is often not detected with neurocognitive tests making it difficult to determine how common and severe these symptoms are in individuals with a history of TBI. This study was conducted to determine the relative prevalence of fatigue and cognitive impairment in individuals with a history of TBI. Methods The Fatigue and Altered Cognition Scale (FACs) digital questionnaire was used to assess self-reported fatigue and cognitive impairment. Adults aged 18–70 were digitally recruited for the online anonymous study. Eligible participants provided online consent, demographic data, information about lifetime TBI history, and completed the 20 item FACs questionnaire. Results A total of 519 qualifying participants completed the online digital study which included 204 participants with a history of TBI of varied cause and severity and 315 with no history of TBI. FACs Total Score was significantly higher in the TBI group (57.7 ± 22.2) compared to non-TBI (39.5 ± 23.9; p<0.0001) indicating more fatigue and cognitive impairment. When stratified by TBI severity, FACs score was significantly higher for all severity including mild (53.9 ± 21.9, p<0.0001), moderate (54.8 ± 24.4, p<0.0001), and severe (59.7 ± 20.9, p<0.0001) TBI. Correlation analysis indicated that more severe TBI was associated with greater symptom severity (p<0.0001, r = 0.3165). Ancillary analysis also suggested that FACs scores may be elevated in participants with prior COVID-19 infection but no history of TBI. Conclusions Adults with a history of even mild TBI report significantly greater fatigue and cognitive impairment than those with no history of TBI, and symptoms are more profound with greater TBI severity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0300910
JournalPloS one
Issue number3 March
StatePublished - Mar 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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