La Trobe
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Insights into social communication following traumatic brain injury sustained in older adulthood

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-04-03, 04:36 authored by Joanna ShorlandJoanna Shorland, Jacinta DouglasJacinta Douglas, Robyn O'HalloranRobyn O'Halloran

Background: There is a lack of evidence relating to cognitive-communication difficulties following traumatic brain injury (TBI) sustained in older adulthood. A prominent area in which post-TBI cognitive-communication difficulties manifest is at the level of social communication. An investigation of social communication focusing on comparison of those injured in older and younger adulthood is a practical starting point for age-related cognitive-communication outcome comparison. Aims: The overall objective of this study was to explore the social communication of individuals who sustained severe TBI in an early period of older adulthood (50–70 years) compared to younger adulthood (18–40 years), as informed by self and close other reports. Methods & Procedures: This exploratory controlled group comparison study involved analysis of self-reported and close other reported La Trobe Communication Questionnaire data for 22 adults with severe TBI (11 older at injury; 11 younger at injury) and 22 control participants (11 older; 11 younger). TBI participants were matched for injury variables and participant groups were matched for sex, age and education. Outcomes & Results: The close others of the older and younger adults with TBI reported them to have significantly more frequent difficulty with social communication than the close others of age-matched control groups. Older adults with TBI reported significantly more frequent difficulty with social communication than uninjured older adults. In contrast, younger adults with TBI and uninjured younger adults reported a similar frequency of difficulty with social communication. No age-based difference in the frequency of social communication difficulty was evident when comparing the self or close other reports of older and younger adults with TBI. Awareness of social communication difficulty, as indexed by comparing self and close other perceptions, showed a different pattern across the TBI groups. The older TBI group rated themselves as having significantly less frequent social communication difficulty than was perceived by their close others. In contrast, no statistically significant difference was evident between the self and close other social communication ratings of the younger TBI group. Conclusions and Implications: Where possible clinicians need to work with close communication partners to understand the nature and degree of social communication difficulty following severe TBI. This may be especially important when working with people who sustain TBI in older adulthood if future research shows that this population have greater difficulty with self-awareness of social communication difficulty. 


This work was supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship.


Publication Date



International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders






449 - 462





Rights Statement

© 2022 The Authors. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.