Objective: To examine the relative contributions of injury characteristics and noninjury child and family factors as predictors of postconcussive symptoms (PCS) following mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) in children.
Method: Participants were 8- to 15-year-old children, 186 with mild TBI and 99 with mild orthopedic injuries (OI). Parents and children rated PCS shortly after injury and at 1, 3, and 12 months postinjury. Hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to predict PCS from (1) demographic variables; (2) premorbid child factors (WASI IQ; WRAT-3 Reading; Child Behavior Checklist; ratings of preinjury PCS); (3) family factors (Family Assessment Device General Functioning Scale; Brief Symptom Inventory; and Life Stressors and Social Resources Inventory); and (4) injury group (OI, mild TBI with loss of consciousness [LOC] and associated injuries [AI], mild TBI with LOC but without AI, mild TBI without LOC but with AI, and mild TBI without LOC or AI).
Results: Injury group predicted parent and child ratings of PCS but showed a decreasing contribution over time. Demographic variables consistently predicted symptom ratings across time. Premorbid child factors, especially retrospective ratings of premorbid symptoms, accounted for the most variance in symptom ratings. Family factors, particularly parent adjustment, consistently predicted parent, but not child, ratings of PCS.
Conclusions: Injury characteristics predict PCS in the first months following mild TBI but show a decreasing contribution over time. In contrast, noninjury factors are more consistently related to persistent PCS.