The objectives of this study were to compare individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and healthy controls on neuropsychological tests of attention and driving simulation performance, and explore their relationships with participants' characteristics, sleep, sleepiness, and fatigue. Participants were 22 adults with moderate or severe TBI (time since injury ≥ one year) and 22 matched controls. They completed three neuropsychological tests of attention, a driving simulator task, night-time polysomnographic recordings, and subjective ratings of sleepiness and fatigue. Results showed that participants with TBI exhibited poorer performance compared to controls on measures tapping speed of information processing and sustained attention, but not on selective attention measures. On the driving simulator task, a greater variability of the vehicle lateral position was observed in the TBI group. Poorer performance on specific subsets of neuropsychological variables was associated with poorer sleep continuity in the TBI group, and with a greater increase in subjective sleepiness in both groups. No significant relationship was found between cognitive performance and fatigue. These findings add to the existing evidence that speed of information processing is still impaired several years after moderate to severe TBI. Sustained attention could also be compromised. Attention seems to be associated with sleep continuity and daytime sleepiness; this interaction needs to be explored further.
Keywords: Cognition; Driving simulator; Neuropsychological tests; Sleep disturbances; Traumatic brain injury.