Recovery of White Matter following Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury Depends on Injury Severity

Sila Genc, Vicki Anderson, Nicholas P Ryan, Charles B. Malpas, Cathy Catroppa, Miriam H Beauchamp, Timothy J. Silk

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25 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies in pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI) have been variable in describing the effects of injury severity on white-matter development. The present study used diffusion tensor imaging to investigate prospective sub-acute and longitudinal relationships between early clinical indicators of injury severity, diffusion metrics, and neuropsychological outcomes. Pediatric patients with TBI underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (n = 78, mean [M] = 10.56, standard deviation [SD] = 2.21 years) at the sub-acute stage after injury (M = 5.55, SD = 3.05 weeks), and typically developing children were also included and imaged (n = 30, M = 10.60, SD = 2.88 years). A sub-set of the patients with TBI (n = 15) was followed up with MRI 2 years post-injury. Diffusion MRI images were acquired at sub-acute and 2-year follow-up time points and analyzed using Tract-Based Spatial Statistics. At the sub-acute stage, mean diffusivity and axial diffusivity were significantly higher in the TBI group compared with matched controls (p < 0.05). TBI severity significantly predicted diffusion profiles at the sub-acute and 2-year post-injury MRI. Patients with more severe TBI also exhibited poorer information processing speed at 6-months post-injury, which in turn correlated with their diffusion metrics. These findings highlight that the severity of the injury not only has an impact on white-matter microstructure, it also impacts its recovery over time. Moreover, findings suggest that sub-acute microstructural changes may represent a useful prognostic marker to identify children at elevated risk for longer term deficits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)798-806
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Pediatric
  • Severity
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • White matter

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