Traumatic Brain Injury and Agitation

Course Request

Learning Objectives

  • Environmental considerations
  • Risk of misdiagnosis
  • Appropriate prescribing

Course Description

Agitation is a symptom that frequently complicates the care of patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Agitated patients are predisposed to negative functional outcomes and increased risk for themselves, their families, and their caregivers. Optimal management of posttraumatic agitation is an important aspect of rehabilitation in this patient population.

TBI management and treatment can also be complicated by the presence of pseudobulbar affect (PBA). The incidence of PBA is considered to be widely under-recognized due to the limited awareness of this condition and frequent confusion with other neuropsychiatric conditions, including post-traumatic agitation.

Treatment of agitated patients includes environmental adaptation, thoughtful medication decisions, and frequent reassessment for continuing or worsening symptoms.

Did you know…

  • The CDC estimates that in 2010, TBIs accounted for approximately 2.5 million ED visits, hospitalizations, and deaths in the United States
  • The percentage of patients with TBI reported to suffer from agitation ranges from 11% to 70%, with a mean incidence of 46%
  • Studies have shown that TBI patients who experience agitation experience longer hospital stays and poorer outcomes

Course at a Glance

Target Audience: Clinicians

Time to Complete: 30 Minutes

Contributor: Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital


Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Partners Healthcare

Author Information

Course development guided by the expertise of

  • Liz Adamova
  • Audrien Sarneki
  • Rosse Zafante