New study shows age influences the recovery phase of TBI in older adults

New study shows age influences the recovery phase of TBI in older adults

By: Alexandra de Leon Date: September 10th, 2020

Traumatic Brian Injuries are considered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a “silent” epidemic that affects more than 2.87 million people in the U.S. annually.

Researchers at the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center (HIPRC), University of Washington School of Nursing, and UW Medicine have conducted a study to compare the plasma inflammatory biomarker concentrations in young and older adults with and without mild traumatic brain injury (TBI). The study was published September 9, 2020 in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation.

Over the course of six months, 313 participants, divided into four groups were studied to assess the effects of aging and TBI on inflammatory makers. This study is the first to look at long-term outcomes in the post-injury chronic phase.


  • Group 1: older adults (> 55 years of age) with mild TBI
  • Group 2: younger adults (21-54 years of age) with mild TBI
  • Group 3: non-injured older adults (> 55 years of age)
  • Group 4: non-injured young adults (21-54 years of age)

The average age of younger participants with mild TBI was 35 years old, while older adults with TBI were an average of 66.5 years old. Results found older people with mild TBI were more likely to have received pre-hospital care and were more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit than younger adults with TBI. Researchers found persistent aging related differences between the groups in concentrations of four cytokines up to 6 months.

The data also suggests that TBI has particular age-related neuroinflammatory signatures that differ in older and younger adults experiencing mild TBI. The differences were notable for their roles in neutrophil attraction, neuronal-microglial-immune cell interactions, and chronic inflammation. The neuroinflammatory signature that accompanies mild TBI in older adults differs from that of younger adults.

This study was funded by grant funding for the work from the NIH/NINDS 1R01NS07791.

To read the complete study, click here.