Self-Perception of Cognitive-Communication Functions After Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Norman, R., Flaugher, T., Chang, S., & Power, E. (2023). Self-Perception of Cognitive-Communication Functions After Mild Traumatic Brain Injury. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 1-24.


Purpose: A mixed-method approach was used to investigate the lived experiences of adults with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). The study aimed to understand the perceived relationship between cognitive-communication problems, thinking and communication concerns, and neurobehavioral symptoms. We hypothesized that individuals with cognitive-communication problems would attribute their problems with communication to their mTBI history and their self-perceived problems would be correlated with symptomatology.
Method: The Neurobehavioral Symptom Inventory (NSI) and an online cognitive-communication survey was used to conduct a study of 30 adults with mTBI history. Quantitative survey and NSI scores were analyzed with content analysis and correlational statistics.
Results: The average NSI Total score was 17 with the following subscale scores: somatic (5), affective (8), and cognitive (3.9). Participants reported problems with expressive communication (56%), comprehension (80%), thinking (63%), and social skills (60%). Content analysis revealed problems in the following areas: expression (e.g., verbal, and written language), comprehension (reading and verbal comprehension), cognition (e.g., attention, memory and speed of processing, error regulation), and functional consequences (e.g., academic work, social problems, and anxiety and stress). A Pearson correlation indicated a statistically significant relationship (p < .01) between the Communication Survey Total and the Total, Somatic, Affective, and Cognitive subscales.
Conclusions: This study highlights a multifactorial basis of cognitive-communication impairment in adults with mTBI. We show that those with mTBI history perceive difficulties with cognitive-communication skills: conversations, writing, and short-term memory/attention. Furthermore, those with mTBI perceive their cognitive-communication problems after injury have impacted their vocational, social, and academic success.