Diverging white matter trajectories in children after traumatic brain injury: The RAPBI study

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Abstract

Objective:

To examine longitudinal trajectories of white matter organization in pediatric moderate/severe traumatic brain injury (msTBI) over a 12-month period.

Methods:

We studied 21 children (16 M/5 F) with msTBI, assessed 2–5 months postinjury and again 13–19 months postinjury, as well as 20 well-matched healthy control children. We assessed corpus callosum function through interhemispheric transfer time (IHTT), measured using event-related potentials, and related this to diffusion-weighted MRI measures of white matter (WM) microstructure. At the first time point, half of the patients with TBI had significantly slower IHTT (TBI-slow-IHTT, n = 11) and half were in the normal range (TBI-normal-IHTT, n = 10).

Results:

The TBI-normal-IHTT group did not differ significantly from healthy controls, either in WM organization in the chronic phase or in the longitudinal trajectory of WM organization between the 2 evaluations. In contrast, the WM organization of the TBI-slow-IHTT group was significantly lower than in healthy controls across a large portion of the WM. Longitudinal analyses showed that the TBI-slow-IHTT group experienced a progressive decline between the 2 evaluations in WM organization throughout the brain.

Conclusions:

We present preliminary evidence suggesting a potential biomarker that identifies a subset of patients with impaired callosal organization in the first months postinjury who subsequently experience widespread continuing and progressive degeneration in the first year postinjury.

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