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To identify latent trajectories of IQ over time after pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI) and examine the predictive value of risk factors within and across recovery trajectories.
206 children ages 3–7 years at injury were included: 87 TBI (23 severe, 21 moderate, 43 complicated mild) and 119 orthopedic injury (OI). We administered intelligence tests shortly after injury (1½ months), 12 months, and 6.8 years postinjury. Latent class growth modeling was used to identify latent subgroups. Separate models examined verbal and nonverbal IQ recovery trajectories following TBI versus OI. Variables included: age at injury, sex, race, socioeconomic status, injury severity, quality of the home environment, family functioning, and parenting style.
Both the TBI and OI analyses yielded different growth models for nonverbal (k = 3) and verbal IQ (k = 3). Although all models resulted in 3 latent classes (below average, average, and aboveaverage performance); trajectory shapes, contributors to class membership, and performance within each class varied by injury group and IQ domain. TBI severity was associated with class membership for nonverbal IQ, with less severe injuries associated with higher IQ scores; however, TBI severity did not influence verbal IQ class membership. Parenting style had a more prominent effect on verbal and nonverbal IQ within the TBI than OI trajectories.
Findings suggest TBI severity is related to recovery trajectories for nonverbal but not verbal IQ and parenting style has stronger effects on recovery in TBI than OI. Results highlight the importance of parental factors on long-term recovery after TBI.
To examine the impact of early traumatic brain injury (TBI) on effortful control (EC) over time and the relationship of EC and executive functioning (EF) to long-term functional and social outcomes.
Parents of children (N = 206, ages 3–7) with moderate-to-severe TBI or orthopedic injuries (OIs) rated EC using the Child Behavior Questionnaire at 1 (pre-injury), 6, 12, and 18 months post-injury. Child functioning and social competence were assessed at 7 years post-injury. Mixed models examined the effects of injury, time since injury, and their interaction on EC. General linear models examined the associations of pre-injury EC and EC at 18 months with long-term functional and social outcomes. Models controlled for EF to assess the unique contribution of EC to outcomes.
Children with severe TBI had significantly lower EC than both the OI and moderate TBI groups at each post-injury time point. Both pre-injury and 18-month EC were associated with long-term outcomes. Among those with low EC at baseline, children with moderate and severe TBI had more functional impairment than those with OI; however, no group differences were noted at high levels of EC. EC had main effects on parent-reported social competence that did not vary by injury type.
Findings suggest that EC is sensitive to TBI effects and is a unique predictor of functional outcomes, independent of EF. High EC could serve as a protective factor, and as such measures of EC could be used to identify children for more intensive intervention.
The present study examined the differential effect of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) Val66Met polymorphism on neuropsychological functioning in children with traumatic brain injury (TBI) relative to orthopedic injury (OI).
Participants were drawn from a prospective, longitudinal study of children who sustained a TBI (n = 69) or OI (n = 72) between 3 and 7 years of age. Children completed a battery of neuropsychological measures targeting attention, memory, and executive functions at four timepoints spanning the immediate post-acute period to 18 months post-injury. Children also completed a comparable age-appropriate battery of measures approximately 7 years post-injury. Parents rated children’s dysexecutive behaviors at all timepoints.
Longitudinal mixed models revealed a significant allele status × injury group interaction with a medium effect size for verbal fluency. Cross-sectional models at 7 years post-injury revealed non-significant but medium effect sizes for the allele status x injury group interaction for fluid reasoning and immediate and delayed verbal memory. Post hoc stratified analyses revealed a consistent pattern of poorer neuropsychological functioning in Met carriers relative to Val/Val homozygotes in the TBI group, with small effect sizes; the opposite trend or no appreciable effect was observed in the OI group.
The results suggest a differential effect of the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism on verbal fluency, and possibly fluid reasoning and immediate and delayed verbal memory, in children with early TBI relative to OI. The Met allele—associated with reduced activity-dependent secretion of BDNF—may confer risk for poorer neuropsychological functioning in children with TBI.
We examined parent- and adolescent-reported executive functioning (EF) behaviors following pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the context of Online Family Problem-Solving Therapy (OFPST) and moderators of change in EF behaviors.
In total, 274 families were randomized to OFPST or an internet resource comparison group. Parents and adolescents completed the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function at four time points. Mixed models were used to examine EF behaviors, assessing the effects of visit, treatment group, rater, TBI severity, age, socioeconomic status, and family functioning.
Parents rated their adolescents’ EF as poorer (F(3,1156) = 220.15, p < .001; M = 58.11, SE = 0.73) than adolescents rated themselves (M = 51.81, SE = 0.73). Across raters, EF behaviors were poorer for adolescents whose parents had less education (F(3,1156) = 8.60, p = .003; M = 56.76, SE = 0.98) than for those with more education (M = 53.16, SE = 0.88). Age at baseline interacted with visit (F(3,1156) = 5.05, p = .002), such that families of older adolescents reported improvement in EF behaviors over time. Family functioning also interacted with visit (F(3, 1156) = 2.61, p = .049), indicating more improvement in EF behaviors over time in higher functioning families. There were no effects of treatment or TBI severity.
We identified a discrepancy between parent- and adolescent-reported EF, suggesting reduced awareness of deficits in adolescents with TBI. We also found that poorer family functioning and younger age were associated with poorer recovery after TBI, whereas adolescents of parents with less education were reported as having greater EF deficits across time points.
Objectives: We conducted joint analyses from five randomized clinical trials (RCTs) of online family problem-solving therapy (OFPST) for children with traumatic brain injury (TBI) to identify child and parent outcomes most sensitive to OFPST and trajectories of recovery over time. Methods: We examined data from 359 children with complicated mild to severe TBI, aged 5–18, randomized to OFPST or a control condition. Using profile analyses, we examined group differences on parent-reported child (internalizing and externalizing behavior problems, executive function behaviors, social competence) and family outcomes (parental depression, psychological distress, family functioning, parent–child conflict). Results: We found a main effect for measure for both child and family outcomes [F(3, 731) = 7.35, p < .001; F(3, 532) = 4.79, p = .003, respectively], reflecting differing degrees of improvement across measures for both groups. Significant group-by-time interactions indicated that children and families in the OFPST group had fewer problems than controls at both 6 and 18 months post baseline [t(731) = −5.15, p < .001, and t(731) = −3.90, p = .002, respectively, for child outcomes; t(532) = −4.81, p < .001, and t(532) = −3.80, p < .001, respectively, for family outcomes]. Conclusions: The results suggest limited differences in the measures’ responsiveness to treatment while highlighting OFPST’s utility in improving both child behavior problems and parent/family functioning. Group differences were greatest at treatment completion and after extended time post treatment.
Objective: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) sustained in childhood is associated with poor social outcomes. This study investigated the role of theory of mind (ToM) as a mediator of the relation between TBI and peer rejection/victimization and reciprocated friendships, as well as the moderating effect of parental nurturance on those relationships. Method: Participants were children of 8–13 years old (M = 10.45, SD = 1.47), including 13 with severe TBI, 39 with complicated mild/moderate TBI, and 32 children with orthopedic injuries. Data on peer rejection/victimization and friendship were collected in school classrooms using the Extended Class Play and friendship nominations. Parents rated parental nurturance using the Child-Rearing Practices Report. Finally, ToM was measured based on children’s average performance across three tasks measuring different aspects of ToM. Results: Severe TBI was associated with poorer ToM, greater peer rejection/victimization, and fewer reciprocated friendships. ToM mediated the relation between severe TBI and peer rejection/victimization (i.e., severe TBI predicted poorer ToM, which in turn predicted greater rejection/victimization). Parental nurturance significantly moderated this relation, such that the mediating effect of ToM was significant only at low and average levels of parental nurturance, for both severe and complicated mild/moderate TBI groups. Neither the mediating effect of ToM nor the moderating effect of parental nurturance was significant for reciprocated friendships. Conclusion: High parental nurturance may mitigate the negative effects of ToM deficits on risk of peer rejection/victimization among children with TBI. Interventions designed to increase parental nurturance or ToM may promote better social outcomes among children with TBI.
Objectives: Research on developmental outcomes of preterm birth has traditionally focused on adverse effects. This study investigated the prevalence and correlates of resilience in 146 extremely preterm/extremely low birth weight (EPT/ELBW) children (gestational age <28 weeks and/or birth weight <1000 g) attending kindergarten and 111 term-born normal birth weight (NBW) controls. Methods: Adaptive competence (i.e., “resilience” in the EPT/ELBW group) was defined by scores within grade expectations on achievement tests and the absence of clinically elevated parent ratings of child behavior problems. The “adaptive” children who met these criteria were compared to the “maladaptive” children who did not on child and family characteristics. Additional analyses were conducted to assess the conjoint effects of group (ELBW vs. NBW) and family factors on adaptive competence. Results: A substantial minority of the EPT/ELBW group (45%) were competent compared to a majority of NBW controls (73%), odds ratio (95% confidence interval)=0.26 (0.15, 0.45), p<.001. Adaptive competence was associated with higher cognitive skills, more favorable ratings of behavior and learning not used to define adaptive competence, and more advantaged family environments in both groups, as well as with a lower rate of earlier neurodevelopmental impairment in the EPT/ELBW group. Higher socioeconomic status and more favorable proximal home environments were associated with competence independent of group, and group differences in competence persisted across the next two school years. Conclusions: The findings document resilience in kindergarten children with extreme prematurity and highlight the role of environmental factors as potential influences on outcome. (JINS, 2019, 25, 362–374)
Objectives: This study examined the relationship of the home environment to long-term executive functioning (EF) following early childhood traumatic brain injury (TBI). Methods: Participants (N=134) were drawn from a larger parent study of 3- to 6-year-old children hospitalized for severe TBI (n=16), complicated mild/moderate TBI (n=44), or orthopedic injury (OI; n=74), recruited prospectively at four tertiary care hospitals in the United States and followed for an average of 6.8 years post-injury. Quality of the home environment, caregiver psychological distress, and general family functioning were assessed shortly after injury (i.e., early home) and again at follow-up (i.e., late home). Participants completed several performance-based measures of EF at follow-up. Hierarchical regression analyses examined the early and late home environment measures as predictors of EF, both as main effects and as moderators of group differences. Results: The early and late home environment were inconsistent predictors of long-term EF across groups. Group differences in EF were significant for only the TEA-Ch Walk/Don’t Walk subtest, with poorer performance in the severe TBI group. However, several significant interactions suggested that the home environment moderated group differences in EF, particularly after complicated mild/moderate TBI. Conclusions: The home environment is not a consistent predictor of long-term EF in children with early TBI and OI, but may moderate the effects of TBI on EF. The findings suggest that interventions designed to improve the quality of stimulation in children’s home environments might reduce the long-term effects of early childhood TBI on EF. (JINS, 2018, 24, 11–21)
Objectives: The current study examines whether psychosocial outcomes following pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI) vary as a function of children’s rejection sensitivity (RS), defined as their disposition to be hypersensitive to cues of rejection from peers. Methods: Children ages 8–13 with a history of severe TBI (STBI, n=16), complicated mild/moderate TBI (n=35), or orthopedic injury (OI, n=49) completed measures assessing self-esteem and RS on average 3.28 years post-injury (SD=1.33, range=1.25–6.34). Parents reported on their child’s emotional and behavioral functioning and social participation. Results: Regression analyses found moderation of group differences by RS for three outcomes: social participation, self-perceptions of social acceptance, and externalizing behavior problems. Conditional effects at varying levels of RS indicated that externalizing problems and social participation were significantly worse for children with STBI at high levels of RS, compared to children with OI. Social participation for the STBI group remained significantly lower than the OI group at mean levels of RS, but not at low levels of RS. At high levels of RS, self-perceptions of social acceptance were lower for children with moderate TBI compared to OI, but group differences were not significant at mean or low levels of RS. No evidence of moderation was found for global self-worth, self-perceptions of physical appearance or athletic ability, or internalizing problems. Conclusions: The findings highlight the salient nature of social outcomes in the context of varying levels of RS. These findings may have implications for the design of interventions to improve social outcomes following TBI. (JINS, 2017, 23, 451–459)
Objectives: This study examined whether children with distinct brain disorders show different profiles of strengths and weaknesses in executive functions, and differ from children without brain disorder. Methods: Participants were children with traumatic brain injury (N=82; 8–13 years of age), arterial ischemic stroke (N=36; 6–16 years of age), and brain tumor (N=74; 9–18 years of age), each with a corresponding matched comparison group consisting of children with orthopedic injury (N=61), asthma (N=15), and classmates without medical illness (N=68), respectively. Shifting, inhibition, and working memory were assessed, respectively, using three Test of Everyday Attention: Children’s Version (TEA-Ch) subtests: Creature Counting, Walk-Don’t-Walk, and Code Transmission. Comparison groups did not differ in TEA-Ch performance and were merged into a single control group. Profile analysis was used to examine group differences in TEA-Ch subtest scaled scores after controlling for maternal education and age. Results: As a whole, children with brain disorder performed more poorly than controls on measures of executive function. Relative to controls, the three brain injury groups showed significantly different profiles of executive functions. Importantly, post hoc tests revealed that performance on TEA-Ch subtests differed among the brain disorder groups. Conclusions: Results suggest that different childhood brain disorders result in distinct patterns of executive function deficits that differ from children without brain disorder. Implications for clinical practice and future research are discussed. (JINS, 2017, 23, 529–538)
Objectives: To examine whether apolipoprotein e4 (APOE) status moderates the association of family environment with child functioning following early traumatic brain injury (TBI). Methods: Sixty-five children with moderate to severe TBI and 70 children with orthopedic injury (OI) completed assessments 6, 12, 18 months, and 3.5 and 6.8 years post injury. DNA was extracted from saliva samples and genotyped for APOE e4 status. Linear mixed models examined moderating effects of APOE e4 status on associations between two family environment factors (parenting style, home environment) and three child outcomes (executive functioning, behavioral adjustment, adaptive functioning). Results: Children with TBI who were carriers of the e4 allele showed poorer adaptive functioning relative to non-carriers with TBI and children with OI in the context of low authoritarianism. At high levels of authoritarianism, non-carriers with TBI showed the poorest adaptive functioning among groups. There were no main effects or interactions involving APOE and executive functioning or behavioral adjustment. Conclusions:The APOE e4 allele was detrimental for long-term adaptive functioning in the context of positive parenting, whereas in less optimal parenting contexts, being a non-carrier was detrimental. We provide preliminary evidence for an interaction of APOE e4 status and parenting style in predicting long-term outcomes following early TBI. (JINS, 2016, 22, 859–864)
This study examined differences in friendship quality between children with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and orthopedic injury (OI) and behavioral outcomes for children from both groups. Participants were 41 children with TBI and 43 children with OI (M age=10.4). Data were collected using peer- and teacher-reported measures of participants’ social adjustment and parent-reported measures of children’s post-injury behaviors. Participants and their mutually nominated best friends also completed a measure of the quality of their friendships. Children with TBI reported significantly more support and satisfaction in their friendships than children with OI. Children with TBI and their mutual best friend were more similar in their reports of friendship quality compared to children with OI and their mutual best friends. Additionally, for children with TBI who were rejected by peers, friendship support buffered against maladaptive psychosocial outcomes, and predicted skills related to social competence. Friendship satisfaction was related to higher teacher ratings of social skills for the TBI group only. Positive and supportive friendships play an important role for children with TBI, especially for those not accepted by peers. Such friendships may protect children with TBI who are rejected against maladaptive psychosocial outcomes, and promote skills related to social competence. (JINS, 2014, 21, 1–10)
Research reveals mixed results regarding the utility of standardized cognitive and academic tests to predict educational outcomes in youth following a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Yet, deficits in everyday school-based outcomes are prevalent after pediatric TBI. The current study used path modeling to test the hypothesis that parent ratings of adolescents’ daily behaviors associated with executive functioning (EF) would predict long-term functional educational outcomes following pediatric TBI, even when injury severity and patient demographics were included in the model. Furthermore, we contrasted the predictive strength of the EF behavioral ratings with that of a common measure of verbal memory. A total of 132 adolescents who were hospitalized for moderate to severe TBI were recruited to participate in a randomized clinical intervention trial. EF ratings and verbal memory were measured within 6 months of the injury; functional educational outcomes were measured 12 months later. EF ratings and verbal memory added to injury severity in predicting educational competence post injury but did not predict post-injury initiation of special education. The results demonstrated that measurement of EF behaviors is an important research and clinical tool for prediction of functional outcomes in pediatric TBI. (JINS, 2013, 19, 1–9)
Social communication involves influencing what other people think and feel about themselves. We use the term conative theory of mind (ToM) to refer to communicative interactions involving one person trying to influence the mental and emotional state of another, paradigmatic examples of which are irony and empathy. This study reports how children with traumatic brain injury (TBI) understand ironic criticism and empathic praise, on a task requiring them to identify speaker belief and intention for direct conative speech acts involving literal truth, and indirect speech acts involving either ironic criticism or empathic praise. Participants were 71 children in the chronic state of a single TBI and 57 age- and gender-matched children with orthopedic injuries (OI). Group differences emerged on indirect speech acts involving conation (i.e., irony and empathy), but not on structurally and linguistically identical direct speech acts, suggesting specific deficits in this aspect of social cognition in school-age children with TBI. Deficits in children with mild-moderate TBI were less widespread and more selective than those of children with more severe injuries. Deficits in understanding the social, conative function of indirect speech acts like irony and empathy have widespread and deep implications for social function in children with TBI. (JINS, 2013, 19, 1–11)
This study examined peer relationships in children with traumatic brain injury (TBI) relative to children with orthopedic injuries (OI), and explored whether differences in peer relationships correlated with white matter volumes. Classroom procedures were used to elicit peer perceptions of social behavior, acceptance, and friendships for eighty-seven 8- to 13-year-old children, 15 with severe TBI, 40 with complicated mild/moderate TBI, and 32 with OI. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and voxel-based morphometry (VBM) were used to investigate volumetric correlates of peer relationship measures. Children with severe TBI were rated higher in rejection-victimization than children with OI, and were less likely than children with OI to have a mutual friendship in their classroom (47% vs. 88%). Children with TBI without a mutual friend were rated lower than those with a mutual friend on sociability-popularity and prosocial behavior and higher on rejection-victimization, and had lower peer acceptance ratings. Mutual friendship ratings were related to white matter volumes in several posterior brain regions, but not to overall brain atrophy. Severe TBI in children is associated with detrimental peer relationships that are related to focal volumetric reductions in white matter within regions of the brain involved in social information-processing. (JINS, 2013, 19, 1–10)
Theory of mind (ToM) involves thinking about mental states and intentions to understand what other people know and to predict how they will act. We studied ToM in children with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and age- and gender-matched children with orthopedic injuries (OI), using a new three-frame Jack and Jill cartoon task that measures intentional thinking separate from contingent task demands. In the key ToM trials, which required intentional thinking, Jack switched a black ball from one hat to another of a different color, but Jill did not witness the switch; in the otherwise identical non-ToM trials, the switch was witnessed. Overall accuracy was higher in children with OI than in those with TBI. Children with severe TBI showed a larger decline in accuracy on ToM trials, suggesting a specific deficit in ToM among children with severe TBI. Accuracy was significantly higher on trials following errors than on trials following correct responses, suggesting that all groups monitored performance and responded to errors with increased vigilance. TBI is associated with poorer intentional processing in school-age children and adolescents relative to peers with OI; furthermore, children with TBI are challenged specifically by intentional demands, especially when their injury is severe. (JINS, 2012, 19, 1–9)
Our objectives were to examine cognitive outcomes for extremely preterm/extremely low birth weight (EPT/ELBW, gestational age <28 weeks and/or birth weight <1000 g) children in kindergarten and the associations of these outcomes with neonatal factors, early childhood neurodevelopmental impairment, and socioeconomic status (SES). The sample comprised a hospital-based 2001–2003 birth cohort of 148 EPT/ELBW children (mean birth weight 818 g; mean gestational age 26 weeks) and a comparison group of 111 term-born normal birth weight (NBW) classmate controls. Controlling for background factors, the EPT/ELBW group had pervasive deficits relative to the NBW group on a comprehensive test battery, with rates of cognitive deficits that were 3 to 6 times higher in the EPT/ELBW group. Deficits on a measure of response inhibition were found in 48% versus 10%, odds ratio (95% confidence interval) = 7.32 (3.32, 16.16), p < .001. Deficits on measures of executive function and motor and perceptual-motor abilities were found even when controlling for acquired verbal knowledge. Neonatal risk factors, early neurodevelopmental impairment, and lower SES were associated with higher rates of deficits within the EPT/ELBW group. The findings document both global and selective cognitive deficits in EPT/ELBW children at school entry and justify efforts at early identification and intervention. (JINS, 2011, 17, 1067–1079)
A growing body of literature has documented evidence for emotion labeling (EL) deficits after traumatic brain injury (TBI); however, long-term effects of TBI on EL abilities, particularly among young children, are unclear. We investigated EL abilities and socio-emotional outcomes in 32 children with moderate–severe TBI, 23 with complicated-mild TBI, and 82 children with orthopedic injuries (OI), shortly after injury and at 18 months post-injury. All children were between 3:0 and 6:11 years of age at the time of injury. Repeated measures analyses indicated that all groups showed improved EL performance between acute and 18-month assessments, but that the moderate–severe TBI group improved at a slower rate than the OI group, so that the two groups showed significantly different performance at 18 months. Emotion labeling ability did not significantly contribute to the prediction of socio-emotional outcomes after controlling for pre-injury functioning. These results provide preliminary evidence of emerging EL deficits after early childhood TBI that are related to injury severity but that do not predict social and behavioral outcomes. (JINS, 2011, 17, 1132–1142)
This study examined whether children's coping strategies are related to post-concussive symptoms following mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) versus orthopedic injury (OI). Participants were 8- to 15-year-old children with mild TBI (n = 167) or OI (n = 84). They rated their current preferred coping strategies and post-injury symptoms at 2 weeks (baseline) and 1, 3, and 12 months post-injury. Children's reported use of coping strategies did not vary significantly over time, so their baseline coping ratings were examined as predictors of post-concussive symptoms across time. Self-ratings of symptoms were positively related to emotion-focused strategies and negatively related to problem-focused engagement after both mild TBI and OI. Higher problem-focused disengagement predicted larger group differences in children's ratings of symptoms, suggesting that problem-focused disengagement moderates the effects of mild TBI. Coping strategies collectively accounted for approximately 10–15% of the variance in children's post-concussive symptoms over time. The findings suggest that coping may play an important role in accounting for children's perceptions of post-concussive symptoms after mild TBI. (JINS, 2011, 17, 317–326)
Recent advances in neonatal intensive care have resulted in survival of increasing numbers of children with very low birth weight (VLBW, < 1500 g) or very preterm birth (VPTB, < 32 weeks' gestational age [GA]) . Because many of these survivors have neurological abnormalities and other neonatal complications, they are at high risk for an array of neurodevelopmental problems. Studies following children with VLBW or VPTB (i.e., VLBW/VPTB) into early childhood show that they have higher rates of neurosensory and other health disorders, more problems in behavior and socialization, and lower scores on tests of mental, language, and motor skills than control groups of children born at term with normal birth weight (NBW, ≥ 2500 g) . These problems are more common and severe for children born at the limits of viability, such as those with extremely low birth weight (ELBW, < 1000 g) or extremely preterm birth (EPTB, GA < 28 weeks).
Problems in academic achievement and school performance are apparent soon after school entry [3–8]. Learning difficulties are manifest in failure to meet classroom expectations as indexed by grade repetition or the need for special education assistance, parent and teacher reports of poor school performance, and low scores on tests of academic skills, such as those assessing reading, spelling, mathematics, and writing. These problems are more common than persisting health disorders or global developmental impairments, with many survivors experiencing relatively selective impairments in academic achievement.