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Neuropsychological Profile of Lifetime Traumatic Brain Injury in Older Veterans

  • Allison R. Kaup (a1), Carrie Peltz (a2), Kimbra Kenney (a3), Joel H. Kramer (a4), Ramon Diaz-Arrastia (a3) and Kristine Yaffe (a5)...


Objectives: The aim of this study was to characterize the neuropsychological profile of lifetime traumatic brain injury (TBI) in older Veterans. Methods: Participants were 169 older Veterans [mean age=79.1 years (range, 51–97 years), 89% male, 92% Caucasian], 88 with lifetime TBI and 81 without TBI, living in Veterans’ retirement homes in independent residence. TBI history was ascertained with the Ohio State TBI Identification Method structured interview. Cognition was assessed with neuropsychological tests: Raw scores were converted to Z-scores compared to age-corrected normative data and combined into five domain composite Z-scores (attention/working memory, learning/memory, language, processing speed, executive functioning). We investigated the association between TBI and performance in each cognitive domain in linear mixed effects models, with and without adjustment for demographics, medical comorbidities, and psychiatric variables. Results: Compared to those without TBI, older Veterans with TBI had greater deficits in processing speed (estimate=−.52; p=.01; f 2=.08 in fully adjusted model) and executive functioning (estimate=−.41; p=.02; f 2=.06 in fully adjusted model) but performed similarly in the attention/working memory, learning/memory, and language domains (all p>.05). TBI-associated deficits were most prominent among individuals with multiple mild TBIs and those with any moderate-to-severe TBI, but were not clearly present among those with single mild TBI. Conclusions: The neuropsychological profile of lifetime TBI in older Veterans is characterized by slowed processing speed and executive dysfunction, especially among those with greater injury burden. This pattern may reflect long-standing deficits or a TBI-associated cognitive decline process distinct from Alzheimer’s disease. (JINS, 2017, 23, 56–64)


Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to: Allison R. Kaup, San Francisco VA Healthcare System, 4150 Clement Street, 116B, San Francisco, CA 94121. E-mail:


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