Research Reports - Visuospatial memory improvement in patients with diffuse axonal injury

Acta Neuropsychiatr. 2017 Feb;29(1):35-42. doi: 10.1017/neu.2016.29. Epub 2016
Oct 11.

Zaninotto AL(1), Vicentini JE(1), Solla DJ(2), Silva TT(1), Guirado VM(2),
Feltrin F(3), de Lucia MC(1), Teixeira MJ(2), Paiva WS(2).

OBJECTIVE: Diffuse axonal injury (DAI) is prevalent in traumatic brain injury
(TBI), and is often associated with poor outcomes and cognitive impairment,
including memory deficits. Few studies have explored visual memory after TBI and
its relationship to executive functioning. Executive functioning is crucial for
remembering an object's location, operating devices, driving, and route finding.
We compared visual memory performance via the Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure
(ROCF) test 6 and 12 months after DAI.
METHOD: In total, 40 patients (mean age 28.7 years; 87.5% male) with
moderate-to-severe DAI following a road traffic accident completed the 1-year
follow-up. There was a three-phase prospective assessment. In phase 1 (1-3 months
after trauma), patients completed the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and
State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). In phases 2 (6 months) and 3 (12 months),
they completed the BDI, STAI, and a neuropsychological battery [ROCF copy and
recall, digit span forward/backward, Grooved Pegboard test, intelligence quotient
(IQ) by Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-III (WAIS-III)].
RESULTS: There was an improvement in ROCF recall over time (p=0.013), but not
ROCF copy (p=0.657).There was no change in executive function (Savage scores)
copy (p=0.230) or recall (p=0.155). Age, years of education, severity of the
trauma, and IQ did not influence ROCF recall improvement.
CONCLUSION: There are time-dependent improvements in visual memory in patients
with DAI. Neuroplasticity in the 1st months after trauma provides an opportunity
for visuospatial memory learning. The present findings may be useful to formulate
management plans for long-term TBI rehabilitation. 

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