Objective: To demonstrate the similarity of children with a history of traumatic brain injury (TBI), particularly mild TBI, to matched children without such a history, within a child psychiatry outpatient clinic.
Method: This is a chart review of patients presenting to a child psychiatry outpatient clinic over a 3-year period. Children with TBI were matched by age, sex, race, and social class to children with no history of TBI. Axis I and II diagnoses, use of special education services, and IQ scores were compared.
Results: Seventy-four (5.6%) of 1,333 consecutive clinic cases had a definite TBI. Of these, 64 were mild. Only 3 of 59 comparisons that were made between TBI and control subjects were significant. A developmental communication disorder cluster was significantly more frequent in the TBI group. Autism and a pervasive developmental disorder cluster were significantly more frequent in the control group.
Conclusion: In a child psychiatry clinic, patients with a history of TBI are virtually indistinguishable from matched children without TBI. Caution should be exercised before attributing the child's problems, especially long-term problems, to the TBI unless the injury was severe or the child is exhibiting related phobic or posttraumatic stress symptomatology.