Factors influencing late outcomes after MTBI: an exploratory study



Mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) is common and many people recover within three months. However a concerning number of people (up to 15%) develop chronic symptoms and disability, irrespective of injury severity. Reasons for such poor outcomes are not well understood and require further research. This mixed methods study examines factors potentially associated with outcome after MTBI to help clinicians understand why some people do not recover as expected. Quantitative (questionnaires, brain scans, cognitive tests) and qualitative (interviews) approaches will be employed to collect data for the study. The factors we are interested in include changes in brain function, and psychological factors such as coping skills, injury beliefs, personality styles and the impact of stress. Knowledge gained from this research will help develop effective treatments targeting modifiable risk factors to improve MTBI outcomes and reduce risk for development of chronic health problems after injury.

Funding is from the Health Research Council of New Zealand.


This is a cross sectional case control study using a bio psychosocial approach to selection of factors that have potential to influence recovery and outcomes after injury.

Status of Research

Recruitment has now closed and data is being analysed. Summary of findings coming soon.



Snell DL, Martin R, Macleod, AD, Surgenor L, Siegert RJ, Hay-Smith EJC, Hooper GJ, Melzer T, Anderson T. (2015). Untangling symptoms: post-concussion syndrome or chronic pain? Oral presentation at Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine (AFRM) and New Zealand Rehabilitation Association (NZRA) Conference Wellington October 2015.

Key Contact

Dr Debbie Snell,
Burwood Academy of Independent Living

Researchers and Collaborators

Dr Sandy Macleod,
Brain Injury Rehabilitation Service, Burwood Hospital (Canterbury District Health Board).

Associate Professor Lois Surgenor,
Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Otago, Christchurch.

Professor Richard Siegert,
AUT University Auckland.

Associate Professor Jean Hay-Smith
University of Otago, Wellington.

Professor Gary Hooper,
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Musculoskeletal Medicine, University of Otago, Christchurch.

Dr Tracy Melzer,
School of Medicine, University of Otago, Christchurch.

Professor Tim Anderson,
School of Medicine, University of Otago, Christchurch.

Research Assistant:
Rachelle Martin,
PhD Candidate, Rehabilitation Teaching and Research Unit, University of Otago, Wellington.