Research Reports - The trajectory of long-term psychosocial development 16 years following childhood traumatic brain injury

J Neurotrauma. 2015 Jan 15

Rosema S(1), Muscara F, Anderson V, Godfrey C, Hearps SJ, Catroppa C

Childhood traumatic brain injury (CTBI) is one of the most common causes of
impairment in children and adolescents; with psychosocial difficulties found to
be the most persisting. Given that the transition into adolescence and adulthood
can be a stressful period, it is likely that young people who have also sustained
a CTBI will be more vulnerable with regards to developing psychosocial problems.
To date, most research has focused on psychosocial development up to 5 years
following a CTBI and it is unclear how survivors develop in the long-term as
young adults. The aim of this research was to track the long-term psychosocial
outcomes of children with CTBI and compare them to healthy controls over a period
of 16 years. Seventy-five participants with a CTBI and 29 control participants
were followed up at five time points over a period of 16 years. To measure
psychosocial functioning (social skills, internalizing, and externalizing
symptoms), questionnaires were completed by the primary caregiver acutely
(pre-injury baseline), then 6 months, 5 years, 10 years and 16 years post-injury.
No significant group differences were found regarding the developmental
trajectory of social skills, or internalizing and externalizing symptoms between
the CTBI and control groups. The severe CTBI group demonstrated a trend of lower
social skills, while the mild CTBI group showed a trend of higher internalizing
and externalizing skills at 6 months, 5 years and 10 years post-CTBI event
compared to other groups. The mild CTBI group scored in the borderline range for
externalizing symptoms 6 months post-CTBI, however, all other mean scores were
within the normal range. Over a period of 16 years, young adults with CTBI showed
similar developmental trajectories regarding psychosocial outcomes compared to
healthy controls. This study confirmed previous literature that CTBI is
associated with increased levels of psychosocial problems.

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