Predictors of Persistent Neurobehavioral Symptoms in Adolescents with Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Using a Novel Clinical Tool




Wright, Brittany Nicole

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Persistent post-concussion symptoms in adolescents are non-specific and poorly understood. A small percentage of adolescents (roughly 20%) will experience persistent symptoms following mTBI that can be disruptive in many areas of daily functioning. Including measures in assessment that are specific to adolescents but capture symptoms beyond injury may lead to more insight as to why some adolescents experience persistent symptoms. Moreover, identifying predictors of persistent symptoms could aid in management and evaluation of symptoms. The current set of studies was designed to validate a measurement tool for adolescents and identify predictors of persistent symptoms in a cohort of adolescents with mTBI. Study 1 was designed to further validate a tool (the BAST-A), which assesses persistent emotional and behavioral symptoms in adolescents. Another aim was to develop ordinal to continuous normed scores to aid in clinical interpretation. When assessing the psychometric indicators of the tool, both the Negative Affect and Fatigue and Executive and Social Function subscales performed well. However, the Risk Behaviors subscale performed poorly in this sample of adolescents with sports-related concussion. Specifically, Risk Behaviors was not able to distinguish different severity levels in the sample. Results from this study suggest further psychometric validation of the BAST-A in adolescents with mTBI. The aim of Study 2 was to utilize the ordinal to continuous normed scores in the first study to assess if a combination of predictors was associated with persistent neurobehavioral symptoms in adolescents with mTBI. A combination of pre-injury and injury predictors was significantly associated with self-reported Negative Affect and Fatigue symptoms (F (8,93) =6.09, p<.001) and Executive and Social Function symptoms (F (8,93) = 2.18, p=.036). Due to limitations within the Risk Behaviors subscale, binary (Yes/No) outcomes were used. A combination of pre-injury and injury factors was also significantly associated with self-reported Risk Behaviors [χ2(8) = 18.84, p=.016]. Across subscales, total number of recent life stressors remained a significant predictor of persistent symptoms. The results from this study indicated that a combination of injury-related and personal factors is predictive of persistent symptoms and that recent life stressors contribute to the experience of these symptoms.

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