Is performance on the Wechsler test of adult reading affected by traumatic brain injury?

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Objectives.The validity of the National Adult Reading Test (NART) as a predictor of premorbid IQ when used with patients who have sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been questioned in recent years. This study examined whether performance on the Wechsler Test of Adult Reading (WTAR) is similarly affected by TBI in the first year after an injury.Design and Method.The WTAR scores of participants who had sustained a mild TBI (N=82), moderate TBI (N=73), severe TBI (N=61) or an orthopaedic injury (N=95) were compared (cross-sectional study). A subset of 21 mild TBI, 31 moderate TBI, 26 severe TBI and 21 control group participants were additionally reassessed 6 months later to assess the impact of recovery on WTAR scores (longitudinal study).Results.The severe TBI group had significantly lower scores on the WTAR than the mild TBI, moderate TBI and control groups in the cross-sectional study, despite being matched demographically. The findings from the longitudinal study revealed a significant group difference and a small improvement in performance over time but the interaction between group and time was not significant, suggesting that the improvements in WTAR performance over time were not restricted to more severely injured individuals whose performance was temporarily suppressed.Conclusions.These findings suggest that reading performance may be affected by severe TBI and that the WTAR may underestimate premorbid IQ when used in this context, which may cause clinicians to underestimate the cognitive deficits experienced by these patients.

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