Effects of Severe, Childhood Brain Injury Long Lasting

Pre-injury ability and familial factors contribute to long-term recovery

MONDAY, Jan. 23 (HealthDay News) -- There is a high risk of persisting deficits following severe, childhood traumatic brain injury (TBI), according to a study published online Jan. 23 in Pediatrics.

Vicki Anderson, Ph.D., from Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues studied long-term cognitive and functional outcomes of 40 children with TBI (aged 2 to 7 years) admitted to a tertiary pediatric hospital. Subjects were divided according to injury severity and compared with 16 healthy controls acutely and at 12 months, 30 months, and 10 years post-injury. Outcomes investigated included cognition, adaptive ability, executive function, and social/behavioral functioning.

The researchers found that children with severe TBI had the poorest outcomes, with cognition deficits being the greatest. Across the severity groups, the recovery trajectories were similar. Significant gains were made in verbal skills from 12 and 30 months to 10 years. Outcome predictors included pre-injury ability for adaptive function, and family function for social/behavioral skills.

"Results confirm a high risk of persisting deficits after severe TBI in early childhood," the authors write. "Contrary to speculation about 'growing into deficits,' after protracted recovery to 30 months, young children make age-appropriate progress at least to 10 years post-insult."

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