Recent Study Looks at Profiles of Cognitive Function 6 Months after TBI 

14 Jan, 2024 F.J. Thomas


Sarasota, FL ( – Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) greatly effect long term quality of life. Some studies have suggested that TBI injuries are associated with a higher mortality rate for up to 5 years after even a moderate injury. 

Cognitive dysfunction is one of the most common TBI side effects, with the level of dysfunction often mirroring the relative severity of the TBI, and manifesting in a multitude of ways. 

Patients that display cognitive difficulties often show an initial gradual recovery, however it’s not uncommon that the recovery is not fully complete in the 3 to 6 month span post injury.  For instance, a 2020 study found that while most patients gain cognitive stability within the first year, some patients experienced significant memory decline over time. 

While cognitive dysfunction associated with TBIs has been well studied, there is less known about the specific patterns of cognitive dysfunction in the long-term recovery period. Recently, researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin, Department of Neurosurgery, reviewed 1,384 TBI patient records from the Transforming Research and Clinical Knowledge in TBI (TRACK-TBI) to determine processing speed, memory, and executive functioning in TBI patients at level 1 trauma centers 6 months post injury. 

Patients included in the study were enrolled between March 2, 2014, and July 27, 2018, and had been treated at a level 1 trauma center within 24 hours of the injury. Researchers reviewed cognitive ability prior the injury, verbal memory, processing speed, and executive functioning. A total of 1,057 patients with a TBI, and 327 control patients without a TBI were included in the review. 

The researchers found that 49.3 to 67.5 percent of the TBI patients exhibited no cognitive impairment below normal standards for memory, processing speed, and executive functioning at 6 months after injury. Additionally, the researchers found 64.4 to 78.8 of TBI patients had no evidence of cognitive decline on formal testing. 

An association between TBI severity and the degree of cognitive function in the long-term recovery phase of 3 to 6 months was noted, which was consistent with previous studies. By 6 months after injury, the overall global cognitive impairment rate was low, at 10.9 percent for moderately severe injuries, and around 2.6 percent for mild injuries. The researchers speculate that this indicates that patients with cognitive impairment maintained strengths that could be leveraged in compensating for weaknesses. 

Processing speed was the most impacted domain after a moderately severe TBI at 42.1 percent, followed by impaired memory at 27.2 percent, and impaired executive function at 20.2 percent. 

Overall, the researchers believe the results of their study further supports the dose-response relationship between TBI severity and cognitive outcomes, with higher rates of cognitive dysfunction noted after moderately severe TBI injuries. Additionally, they observed that there were diverse profiles of cognitive dysfunction when considering verbal memory, processing speed, and executive functioning. The researchers contend that the results of the study provide critical insight into clinical judgements about cognitive function and aid in the design of interventional treatment long term. 

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    About The Author

    • F.J. Thomas

      F.J. Thomas has worked in healthcare business for more than fifteen years in Tennessee. Her experience as a contract appeals analyst has given her an intimate grasp of the inner workings of both the provider and insurance world. Knowing first hand that the industry is constantly changing, she strives to find resources and information you can use.

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