Early Childhood Cognitive and Executive Functions affected by Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are an important problem in the United States requiring attention because of the life-altering changes occurring a few months to a few years post-injury. Sometimes called the “silent killer”, TBI’s claim more than 52,000 lives per year with more than twice that number that are hospitalized or unreported (Faul, 2010). With its invisibility, initial diagnosis of a TBI is difficult and often overlooked. There is a broad spectrum of symptoms and disabilities, classified as either mild, moderate or severe. It can sometimes difficult diagnosing a TBI when ...view middle of the document...
With recent research, Ming and Song (2011) overturned this century old dogma and presented new information with the discovery of neuronal growth continuing into adulthood through the discovery of adult neural stem cells, specifically in the hippocampus and the olfactory bulb (p.2). The first year of infancy has exponential neural development with synaptogenesis, pruning and myelination. The whole central nervous system goes through this early period of reorganization, forming these exuberant connections for neural plasticity, followed by a steady decline extending through adulthood.
Post-acute affects on Cognition and school readiness skills
* Affects: reduction in IQ testing, impairments in language, memory, problem solving, perceptual-motor skills and attention and executive function
* Study: longitudinal investigation of young children (age of injury between 3-6)
* Compared post-acute neuropsychological and early academic skills, and also family environment ** (from parents); compared this group with children hospitalized for orthopedic injuries not with TBI (important comparison because to match similar pre-injury behaviors and family characteristics)
* Used GCS score (altered neurological status)
* CT/MRI abnormalities
* Results consistent with past research:
* Severe or moderate TBI performed more poorly than OI group on a wide range of neuropsychological and achievements tests.
* Severe had poorer general cognitive ability (GCA) and lower scores on tests of memory, spatial reasoning, executive function, and school readiness skills.
* No verbal deficits, but naming vocabulary decreased
* Moderate had poorer pragmatic language, memory, executive function, and school readiness concepts, but NOT in general ability.
* Age of injury is not a critical factor in predicting outcomes of TBI sustained during the early childhood years
* Although measures of environmental disadvantage predict lower scores on most tests in children with and without TBI, these factors may amplify the effects of TBI on some tests but dampen or obscure effects on other measures.
Problem with previous studies, not long enough post-injury follow-up
Lack of longer follow-ups years post-injury has been overcome by Cathy Catroppa, et. al. in a study looking at children between ages 1 through 7 years (p.1). Traumatic brain injuries affect the neural functioning of the human brain, so a longer follow-up would be desired. This 10-year follow up of only half of the participants showed generalized deficits for more severe TBI. For example, the participants in this group had problems performing on the Sky Search Attention Raw Score task. Not only did this study show a significant relationship between the severity of the TBI and abnormal CT/MRI findings, cognitive functioning, and attentional skills, but it also demonstrated that even the most established attentional skills present at...