A growing body of literature has documented evidence for emotion labeling (EL) deficits after traumatic brain injury (TBI); however, long-term effects of TBI on EL abilities, particularly among young children, are unclear. We investigated EL abilities and socio-emotional outcomes in 32 children with moderate–severe TBI, 23 with complicated-mild TBI, and 82 children with orthopedic injuries (OI), shortly after injury and at 18 months post-injury. All children were between 3:0 and 6:11 years of age at the time of injury. Repeated measures analyses indicated that all groups showed improved EL performance between acute and 18-month assessments, but that the moderate–severe TBI group improved at a slower rate than the OI group, so that the two groups showed significantly different performance at 18 months. Emotion labeling ability did not significantly contribute to the prediction of socio-emotional outcomes after controlling for pre-injury functioning. These results provide preliminary evidence of emerging EL deficits after early childhood TBI that are related to injury severity but that do not predict social and behavioral outcomes. (JINS, 2011, 17, 1132–1142)
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