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Retrospective self-report is typically used for diagnosing previous pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI). A new semi-structured interview instrument (New Mexico Assessment of Pediatric TBI; NewMAP TBI) investigated test–retest reliability for TBI characteristics in both the TBI that qualified for study inclusion and for lifetime history of TBI.
One-hundred and eight-four mTBI (aged 8–18), 156 matched healthy controls (HC), and their parents completed the NewMAP TBI within 11 days (subacute; SA) and 4 months (early chronic; EC) of injury, with a subset returning at 1 year (late chronic; LC).
The test–retest reliability of common TBI characteristics [loss of consciousness (LOC), post-traumatic amnesia (PTA), retrograde amnesia, confusion/disorientation] and post-concussion symptoms (PCS) were examined across study visits. Aside from PTA, binary reporting (present/absent) for all TBI characteristics exhibited acceptable (≥0.60) test–retest reliability for both Qualifying and Remote TBIs across all three visits. In contrast, reliability for continuous data (exact duration) was generally unacceptable, with LOC and PCS meeting acceptable criteria at only half of the assessments. Transforming continuous self-report ratings into discrete categories based on injury severity resulted in acceptable reliability. Reliability was not strongly affected by the parent completing the NewMAP TBI.
Categorical reporting of TBI characteristics in children and adolescents can aid clinicians in retrospectively obtaining reliable estimates of TBI severity up to a year post-injury. However, test–retest reliability is strongly impacted by the initial data distribution, selected statistical methods, and potentially by patient difficulty in distinguishing among conceptually similar medical concepts (i.e., PTA vs. confusion).
This study aimed to examine the predictors of cognitive performance in patients with pediatric mild traumatic brain injury (pmTBI) and to determine whether group differences in cognitive performance on a computerized test battery could be observed between pmTBI patients and healthy controls (HC) in the sub-acute (SA) and the early chronic (EC) phases of injury.
203 pmTBI patients recruited from emergency settings and 159 age- and sex-matched HC aged 8–18 rated their ongoing post-concussive symptoms (PCS) on the Post-Concussion Symptom Inventory and completed the Cogstate brief battery in the SA (1–11 days) phase of injury. A subset (156 pmTBI patients; 144 HC) completed testing in the EC (~4 months) phase.
Within the SA phase, a group difference was only observed for the visual learning task (One-Card Learning), with pmTBI patients being less accurate relative to HC. Follow-up analyses indicated higher ongoing PCS and higher 5P clinical risk scores were significant predictors of lower One-Card Learning accuracy within SA phase, while premorbid variables (estimates of intellectual functioning, parental education, and presence of learning disabilities or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) were not.
The absence of group differences at EC phase is supportive of cognitive recovery by 4 months post-injury. While the severity of ongoing PCS and the 5P score were better overall predictors of cognitive performance on the Cogstate at SA relative to premorbid variables, the full regression model explained only 4.1% of the variance, highlighting the need for future work on predictors of cognitive outcomes.
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