Language Comprehension After Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: The Role of Speed

Norman R., Shah M., Turkstra L. (2019) Language Comprehension after Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: The Role of Speed. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology.

Topic: communication disorders


Purpose: The aim of this study was to characterize language comprehension in mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) by testing a speed-based hypothesis. We hypothesized that adults with mTBI would perform worse than a group of adults with orthopedic injuries (OIs) on an experimental language comprehension task.

Method: The study employed a prospective experimental design. Participants were 19 adults with mTBI and 19 adults with OI ages 18-55 years. Participants completed the Whatdunit task, a sentence agent selection task in speeded and unspeeded conditions.

Results: In the unspeeded condition, the mTBI group performed with a marginally significant higher accuracy than the OI group. In the speeded condition, the mTBI group performed with lower accuracy than the OI group; however, this difference did not reach statistical significance. There was a marginally significant interaction of Sentence Type × Group for reaction time in the speeded condition.

Conclusions: While our task might have been sensitive to cognitive processing abilities in both groups (as evidenced by the main effects of condition and sentence type), the task was not specific enough to capture mTBI-related deficits. The similarities in performance between both groups have clinical implications for the treatment of not just brain-related trauma but also trauma in general.