Acute care, assessment, emergency medicine, nurse practitioners, traumatic brain injury



  1. Trent, Tiffany DNP, APRN, AGACNP-BC (Nurse Practitioner)


Background: Triage and neurological assessment of the 1.7 million traumatic brain injuries occurring annually is often done by nurse practitioners and physician assistants in the emergency department. Subjective assessments, such as the neurological examination that includes evaluation of the pupillary light reflex (PLR), can contain bias. Quantitative pupillometry (QP) standardizes and objectifies the PLR examination. Additional data are needed to determine whether QP can predict neurological changes in a traumatic brain injury (TBI) patient.


Purpose: This study examines the effectiveness of QP in predicting neurological decline within 24 hours of admission following acute TBI.


Methodology: This prospective, observational, clinical trial used pragmatic sampling to assess PLR in TBI patients using QP within 24 hours of ED admission. Chi-square analysis was used to determine change in patient status, through Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), at baseline and within 24 hours of admission, to the QP.


Results: There were 95 participants included in the analysis; of whom 35 experienced neuroworsening, defined by change in GCS of >2 within the first 24 hours of admission. There was a significant association between an abnormal Neurological Pupil index (NPi), defined as NPi of <3, and neuroworsening (p < .0001). The sensitivity (51.43%) and specificity (91.67%) of abnormal NPi in predicting neuroworsening were varied.


Conclusion: There is a strong association between abnormal NPi and neuroworsening in the sample of TBI patients with high specificity and moderate sensitivity.


Implications: NPi may be an early indicator of neurological changes within 24 hours of ED admission in patients with TBI.