Research Reports - Social competence at 6 months following childhood traumatic brain injury

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2013 May;19(5):539-50

Anderson V, Beauchamp MH, Yeates KO, Crossley L, Hearps SJ, Catroppa C

Children with traumatic brain injury (TBI) are at risk for social impairment.
This study aimed to examine social function at 6 months post-TBI and to explore
the contribution of injury, cognitive, and environmental influences. The sample
included 136 children, 93 survivors of TBI, and 43 healthy controls. TBI
participants were recruited on admission and underwent magnetic resonance imaging
scan within 8 weeks of injury and behavioral assessment at 6 months post-injury.
Healthy controls underwent magnetic resonance imaging scans and behavioral
assessment on recruitment. Assessment included parent and child questionnaires
tapping social outcome and child-direct testing of cognitive abilities important
for social competence (communication, attention/executive function, social
cognition). Injury characteristics and environmental measures were collected. At
6-months post-injury, social problems were evident, but not global. Social
participation appeared most vulnerable, with more severe injuries leading to
greater problems. Greater injury severity and poorer communication skills were
associated with poorer social adjustment and social participation, with the
impact of family function also significant. Processing speed, younger age, and
male gender also contributed to social outcomes. Further follow-up is required to
track the recovery of social skills and the changing influences of cognition,
brain, and environment over time.

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