Research Reports - Acute prediction of outcome and cognitive-communication impairments following traumatic brain injury: the influence of age, education and site of lesion

Journal of Communication Disorders
Available online 14 April 2018

Sandra Gauthiera, b, g, Joanne LeBlancc, g, Alena Seresovac, g, Andréanne Laberge-Poirierc, g, José A Corread, g, Abdulrahman Y Alturkie, f, g, Judith Marcouxe, g, Mohammed Malekie, g, Mitra Feyzc, g, Elaine de Guise

Communication impairment following a traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been well documented, yet information regarding communication skills in the acute period following the injury is limited in the literature. Also, little is known about the influence of TBI severity (mild, moderate or severe) on cognitive-communication impairments and how these impairments are related to short-term functional outcome. The goal of this study was to assess the performance of adults with mild, moderate and severe TBI on different language tests and to determine how this performance is related to functional capacity. We also aimed to explore which variables among age, sex, education, TBI severity and site of cerebral damage would predict initial language impairments.

Several language tests were administered to a sample of 145 adult patients with TBI of a range of severities admitted to an acute care service and to 113 healthy participants from the community.

TBI patients of a range of severities performed poorly on all language tests in comparison to the healthy controls. In addition, patients with mild TBI performed better than the moderate and severe groups, except on the reading test and on the semantic naming test. In addition, their performance on verbal fluency, conversational discourse and procedural discourse tasks predicted acute functional outcome. Finally, age, education and TBI severity and site of lesion predicted some language performance. A left temporal lesion was associated with poorer performance in conversational discourse and auditory comprehension tasks, a left frontal lesion with a decrease in the verbal fluency results and a right parietal lesion with decreased auditory comprehension and reasoning skills.

Health care professionals working in the acute care setting should be aware of the possible presence of cognitive-communication impairments in patients with TBI, even for those with mild TBI. These deficits can lead to functional communication problems and assistance may be required for tasks frequently encountered in acute care requiring intact comprehension and expression.

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