Abstract

Objective: Executive function deficits are common following traumatic brain injury (TBI) in children. Some reports indicate that executive function improves following TBI, although factors that contribute to recovery continue to be investigated. In this study we examine improvement in performance on the Delis–Kaplan Executive Function System (DKEFS) Tower task, a measure of planning and problem solving abilities, at two time points following TBI to examine magnitude of improvement and associated factors. Method: Participant included 32 children with TBI (Age 14.52, SD = 2.73, 59.4% male). Based on Glasgow coma scale scores most children sustained severe brain injuries (GCS = 6.27, N = 26). Initial evaluation occurred an average of 27.4 days after injury upon admission to a rehabilitation program, and then again 57.7 days later when discharged from the program. Results: Repeated measure ANOVA indicated significant improvement in DKEFS Tower performance (F = 12.872, p > .001). Single sample t-tests indicated the groups performed significantly poorer than the standard sample at intake (p < .002) with no significant difference at discharge. Correlations between injury and recovery related variable with DKEFS tower performance were not significant, although Nonverbal IQ and Nonverbal Memory abilities significantly correlated with DKEFS performance at intake. Conclusion(s): Finding suggest that improvement in executive function does occur in response to rehabilitation, although the current study was not capable of examining how practice effects may influence improvement in DKEFS scores. Future research may examine this matter further and investigate whether similar improvements occur in other areas of executive function.