Research Reports - Mathematical outcomes and working memory in children with TBI and orthopedic injury

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2012 Nov 20:1-10

Raghubar KP, Barnes MA, Prasad M, Johnson CP, Ewing-Cobbs L.

This study compared mathematical outcomes in children with predominantly moderate
to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI; n = 50) or orthopedic injury (OI; n=47) at
2 and 24 months post-injury. Working memory and its contribution to math outcomes
at 24 months post-injury was also examined. Participants were administered an
experimental cognitive addition task and standardized measures of calculation,
math fluency, and applied problems; as well as experimental measures of verbal
and visual-spatial working memory. Although children with TBI did not have
deficits in foundational math fact retrieval, they performed more poorly than OIs
on standardized measures of math. In the TBI group, performance on standardized
measures was predicted by age at injury, socioeconomic status, and the duration
of impaired consciousness. Children with TBI showed impairments on verbal, but
not visual working memory relative to children with OI. Verbal working memory
mediated group differences on math calculations and applied problems at 24 months
post-injury. Children with TBI have difficulties in mathematics, but do not have
deficits in math fact retrieval, a signature deficit of math disabilities.
Results are discussed with reference to models of mathematical cognition and
disability and the role of working memory in math learning and performance for
children with TBI.

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