Traumatic brain injury (TBI) accounts for approximately 30% of injuries among children. Vital
mental capacities such as processing speed and working memory develop
rapidly during childhood and may be disrupted by TBI, adversely affecting
children’s learning and comprehension capabilities.
A recent study in Texas found that children who had experienced TBI in
the past performed more poorly on tasks assessing processing speed and
working memory. Children’s performance on processing speed tasks,
such as reaction time and serial addition, declined as the severity of
TBI increased. Though group differences in severity were not significant
for working memory tasks, children with TBI did perform more poorly on
verb and visual-spatial tasks than their healthy peers.
Importantly, problems with processing speed after TBI seem to underlie
deficits in working memory. These findings have significant implications
for school-age children with TBI, who may fall behind their peers in performance
on school assignments and may require extra time on academic assessments
in the classroom.
Resources: Gorman S, Barnes MA, Swank PR, et al. Does processing speed
mediate the effect of pediatric traumatic brain injury on working memory?
Neuropsychology. (March 2015).