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A prospective study of children with head injuries: I. Design and methods

  • Michael Rutter, Oliver Chadwick (a1), David Shaffer (a2) and Gillian Brown (a3)
Abstract
SYNOPSIS

The main unresolved issues with respect to the psychological sequelae of brain damage in childhood are noted, and the previous studies of children suffering head injury are critically reviewed. A new prospective study is described. Three groups of children were studied: (a) 31 children with ‘severe’ head injuries resulting in a post-traumatic amnesia of at least 7 days; (b) an individually matched control group of 28 children with hospital-treated orthopaedic injuries; and (c) 29 children with ‘mild’ head injuries resulting in a post-traumatic amnesia exceeding 1 hour but less than 1 week. The children were studied as soon as possible after the accident and then again 4 months, 1 year, and 2¼ years after the injury. The parents were interviewed, using systematic and standardized interview techniques; both parents and teachers completed behavioural questionnaires; and the children were seen for individual psychological testing using the WISC, the Neale Analysis of Reading Ability and a battery of tests of more specific cognitive functions. At the final follow-up, the severe head injury group (but not the other 2 groups) received a systematic neurological examination and the school teacher who knew the child best was personally interviewed. The findings are given on physical handicap, neurological abnormality, school placement and psychiatric referrals. All types of disabilities were both more frequent and more persistent in the children with severe head injuries.

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Corresponding author
1Address for correspondence: Professor Michael Rutter, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AF.
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Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
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