Understanding predictors of functional recovery and outcome 30 months following early childhood head injury

Neuropsychology. 2006 Jan;20(1):42-57. doi: 10.1037/0894-4105.20.1.42.


Much is known about outcome following traumatic brain injury (TBI) in school-age children; however, recovery in early childhood is less well understood. Some argue that such injuries should lead to good outcome, because of the plasticity of the developing brain. Other purport that the young brain is vulnerable, with injury likely to result in a substantial impairment (H. G. Taylor & J. Alden, 1997). The aim of this study was to examine outcomes following TBI during early childhood, to plot recovery over the 30 months postinjury, and to identify predictors of outcome. The study compared 3 groups of children sustaining mild, moderate, and severe TBI, ages 2.0 to 6.11 years at injury, with healthy controls. Groups were comparable for preinjury adaptive and behavioral function, psychosocial characteristics, age, and gender. Results suggested a strong association between injury severity and outcomes across all domains. Further, 30-month outcome was predicted by injury severity, family factors, and preinjury levels of child function. In conclusion, children with more severe injuries and lower preinjury adaptive abilities, and whose families are coping poorly, are at greatest risk of long-term impairment in day-to-day skills, even several years postinjury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / classification
  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology
  • Brain Injury, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Brain Injury, Chronic / psychology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Head Injuries, Closed / physiopathology
  • Head Injuries, Closed / psychology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neurologic Examination*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Personality Assessment
  • Reference Values
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*