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Agitation and TBI: A SynapShot from OVC

Agitation Following TBI

During the early phase of recovery from brain injury, many people undergo a period of agitation. Level IV of the Rancho Los Amigos Levels of Cognitive Functioning corresponds to the confused-agitated stage. This stage has been described as a time when a patient is in a heightened state of activity and has diminished capability for processing new information and responding to events in the environment (Malkmus et al., 1980). Based on studies of agitation following traumatic brain injury and other conditions, the following definition of agitation has been proposed:

Agitation is an excess of one or more behaviors that occurs during an altered state of consciousness (Bogner & Corrigan, 1995).

This definition emphasizes the importance of “excessiveness” over the type of behavior manifested. “Excessiveness” is defined as the degree to which the behavior interferes with functional activities and the extent to which the behavior can be inhibited. No one type of behavior comprises agitation, though some component behaviors may be more dominant at times. The definition also requires that the behavior occur during an altered state of consciousness, which, for traumatic brain injury, includes the diminished arousal present from time of injury through the clearing of post-traumatic amnesia.

Next: Measurement of Agitation

This website has been funded with financial assistance from Grant #H133A120086 awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) to the Ohio Valley Center for Brain Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation for the current funding period of 10/01/2012 - 09/30/2017.