Understanding Changes in Gross Cognitive Functioning and Disability in the Year Following TBI for Individuals with a History of Special Education

Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Kimberly Gorgens

Second Advisor

Clayton Kuklick

Third Advisor

Don Gerber


Traumatic brain injury, Special education, Cognitive function


Objective: Little is known about cognitive functioning and disability over time for adults with a history of special education that sustain moderate to severe TBI. The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between a history of special education and outcomes on an assessment of estimated gross cognitive functioning and disability following TBI, with an emphasis on improvement in cognitive function in the year following TBI. Method: using archival data from the Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, improvement in cognitive functioning was evaluated by comparing both groups on the change observed in their mean FIM scores from admissions to 1-year follow-up. Overall differences in impairment at both time points were also compared. Results: After controlling for injury severity there was no significant difference in improvement observed between the group with a history of special education and the control group. In addition, no significant differences at either discrete time point (admissions and 1-year follow-up) were observed. Conclusion: this study found that the improvement in estimated gross cognitive functioning of adults with moderate to severe brain injury and a history of special education is similar to that of a control group when using the FIM assessment. Differences between the two groups might be detected with more sensitive, objective, cognitive testing.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


32 pages

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