Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society

Special Series

Social Competence at 6 Months Following Childhood Traumatic Brain Injury

Vicki Andersona1a2a3 c1, Miriam H. Beauchampa1a4a5, Keith Owen Yeatesa6a7, Louise Crossleya1, Stephen J.C. Hearpsa1 and Cathy Catroppaa1a2a3

a1 Child Neuropsychology, Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

a2 Psychology, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

a3 Psychological Sciences & Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

a4 Department of Psychology, University of Montreal, Canada

a5 Research Center, Ste-Justine Hospital, Montreal, Canada

a6 Department of Pediatrics, The Ohio State University, Ohio

a7 Center for Biobehavioral Health, The Research Institute at Nationwide's Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio

Abstract

Children with traumatic brain injury (TBI) are at risk for social impairment. This study aimed to examine social function at 6 months post-TBI and to explore the contribution of injury, cognitive, and environmental influences. The sample included 136 children, 93 survivors of TBI, and 43 healthy controls. TBI participants were recruited on admission and underwent magnetic resonance imaging scan within 8 weeks of injury and behavioral assessment at 6 months post-injury. Healthy controls underwent magnetic resonance imaging scans and behavioral assessment on recruitment. Assessment included parent and child questionnaires tapping social outcome and child-direct testing of cognitive abilities important for social competence (communication, attention/executive function, social cognition). Injury characteristics and environmental measures were collected. At 6-months post-injury, social problems were evident, but not global. Social participation appeared most vulnerable, with more severe injuries leading to greater problems. Greater injury severity and poorer communication skills were associated with poorer social adjustment and social participation, with the impact of family function also significant. Processing speed, younger age, and male gender also contributed to social outcomes. Further follow-up is required to track the recovery of social skills and the changing influences of cognition, brain, and environment over time. (JINS, 2013, 19, 1–12)

(Received August 13 2012)

(Revised November 27 2012)

(Accepted November 28 2012)

(Online publication April 03 2013)

Keywords

  • Brain injury;
  • Children;
  • Recovery;
  • Social skills;
  • Behavior;
  • Environment

Correspondence

c1 Correspondence and reprint requests to: Vicki Anderson, Child Neuropsychology, 4 West, Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Flemington Road, Parkville. Victoria. 3052. Australia. E-mail: vicki.anderson@rch.org.au