An investigation into long-term cognitive impairment and Quality of Life (QoL) after severe burns.
A proof of principle, cohort design, prospective, observational clinical study. Patients with severe burns (>15% TBSA) admitted to Burns ICU for invasive ventilation were recruited for psychocognitive assessment with a convenience sample of age and sex-matched controls. Participants completed psychological and QoL questionnaires, the Cogstate® electronic battery, Hopkins Verbal Learning, Verbal Fluency and Trail making tasks.
15 patients (11M, 4F; 41±14 years; TBSA 38.4%±18.5) and comparators (11M, 4F; 40±13 years) were recruited. Burns patients reported worse QoL (Neuro-QoL Short Form v2, patient 30.1±8.2, control 38.7±3.2, p=0.0004) and cognitive function (patient composite z-score 0.01, IQR -0.11 to 0.33, control 0.13, IQR 0.47-0.73, p=0.02). Compared to estimated premorbid FSIQ, patients dropped an equivalent of 8 IQ points (p=0.002). Cognitive function negatively correlated with burn severity (rBaux score, p=0.04). QoL strongly correlated with depressive symptoms (Rho=-0.67, p=0.009) but not cognitive function.
Severe burns injuries are associated with a significant, global, cognitive deficit. Patients also report worse QoL, depression and post-traumatic stress. Perceived QoL from cognitive impairment was more closely associated with depression than cognitive impairment.