Abstract

This study examined the sensitivity of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to microstructural white matter (WM) damage in mild and moderate pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI). Fourteen children with TBI and 14 controls ages 10–18 had DTI scans and neurocognitive evaluations at 6–12 months post-injury. Groups did not differ in intelligence, but children with TBI showed slower processing speed, working memory and executive deficits, and greater behavioral dysregulation. The TBI group had lower fractional anisotropy (FA) in three WM regions: inferior frontal, superior frontal, and supracallosal. There were no group differences in corpus callosum. FA in the frontal and supracallosal regions was correlated with executive functioning. Supracallosal FA was also correlated with motor speed. Behavior ratings showed correlations with supracallosal FA. Parent-reported executive deficits were inversely correlated with FA. Results suggest that DTI measures are sensitive to long-term WM changes and associated with cognitive functioning following pediatric TBI.