HealthSeptember 08, 2018

New guidelines for traumatic brain injury built with input from rehabilitation professionals

Clinical practice guidelines play a critical role in promoting quality care for patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI). A new set of guidelines for rehabilitation of patients with moderate to severe TBI incorporating insights from the rehabilitation professionals responsible for providing care from initial assessment through long-term follow-up is introduced in the September issue of the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation (JHTR), official journal of the Brain Injury Association of America. The journal is published in the Lippincott portfolio by Wolters Kluwer.

The novel approach of consulting and working with end users to develop a clinical practice guideline for moderate to severe TBI should influence knowledge uptake for clinicians wanting to provide evidence-based care,according to an introductory article by Bonnie Swaine, PhD, of Universit de Montral and the Center for Interdisciplinary Rehabilitation Research (CRIR) and colleagues.

Unique Focus on Responding to Needs of Professionals Caring for TBI

The guidelines were developed by a collaborative effort of researchers, clinicians, and policymakers from Ontario and Quebec. The complete, bilingual (English and French) guidelines can be accessed at The guidelines were sponsored by the Qubec Institut national dexcellence en santet en services sociaux (INESSS) and the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation (ONF).

Several sets of guidelines for TBI have been developed in recent years so why develop a new clinical practice guideline now?Because clinicians told us that they need specific features and tools, Dr. Swaine and coauthors write. Updated guidelines are also needed to reflect the trend toward community-based rehabilitation, as well as the context of the Canadian healthcare system. 

From the outset, the guideline development process assessed the needs and expectations of "end users": the clinicians and managers providing rehabilitation care for patients with moderate to severe TBI. A study by Marie-Eve Lamontagne, PhD, of Universit Laval, Qubec City, and colleagues found that rehabilitation professionals expressed positive perceptions of clinical practice guidelines however, only a small proportion of respondents used them in everyday practice. The professionals identified several key topics to be covered in guidelines, including the intensity and frequency of rehabilitation services, managing behavioral disorders and cognitive function impairment, and social participation and community life.

A separate survey asked professionals their views on how well guideline recommendations were implemented into the care of patients with TBI. While a high percentage of recommendations were considered "fully or mostly implemented, several gaps in implementation were recognized, both in acute care and rehabilitation settings.

An article by Dr Mark Bayley, MD, of University of Toronto and colleagues highlights the unique features of the INESSS/ONF guideline development process that address user needs, including providing prioritization of recommendations for implementation, implementation tools, indicators to measure uptake, system implications and background rationale and evidence supporting the recommendation. The final clinical practice guideline includes 71 recommendations related to the components of the optimal TBI rehabilitation system, including the intensity/frequency of interventions, rehabilitation mechanisms, duration of interventions, and mechanisms for promoting continuity of care; and 195 recommendations pertaining to assessment and rehabilitation of the sequelae of brain injury, including behavioral disorders, cognitive dysfunction, fatigue and sleep disturbance, and mental health. 

The vision behind the guidelines encompasses the whole "knowledge to action cycle," including measures to define and support implementation of the recommendations across Ontario and Qubec. Drs. Swaine, Bayley, and Lamontagne and colleagues conclude: "Only time will tell whether our attention to user needs and expectations will positively influence the uptake of knowledge using the clinical practice guideline and, ultimately, patient outcomes following moderate to severe TBI.

Click here to read the new guidelines in the September issue of the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation 

About The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation

The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation is a leading, peer-reviewed resource that provides up-to-date information on the clinical management and rehabilitation of persons with traumatic brain injuries. Six issues each year aspire to the vision of knowledge informing care  and include a wide range of articles, topical issues, commentaries and special features. It is the official journal of the Brain Injury Association of America.

About the Brain Injury Association of America

The Brain Injury Association of America is the country`s oldest and largest nationwide brain injury advocacy organization.Our mission is to advance awareness, research, treatment and education and to improve the quality of life for all individuals impacted by brain injury.Through advocacy,we bring help, hope and healing to millions of individuals living with brain injury, their families and the professionals who serve them. 

About Wolters Kluwer

Wolters Kluwer (WKL) is a global leader in professional information, software solutions, and services for the health, tax & accounting, governance, risk & compliance, and legal & regulatory sectors. We help our customers make critical decisions every day by providing expert solutions that combine deep domain knowledge with specialized technology and services.

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