UnlabelledTraumatic brain injury (TBI) often results in traumatic axonal injury and white matter (WM) damage, particularly to the corpus callosum (CC). Damage to the CC can lead to impaired performance on neurocognitive tasks, but there is a high degree of heterogeneity in impairment following TBI. Here we examined the relation between CC microstructure and function in pediatric TBI. We used high angular resolution diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) to evaluate the structural integrity of the CC in humans following brain injury in a sample of 32 children (23 males and 9 females) with moderate-to-severe TBI (msTBI) at 1-5 months postinjury, compared with well matched healthy control children. We assessed CC function through interhemispheric transfer time (IHTT) as measured using event-related potentials (ERPs), and related this to DWI measures of WM integrity. Finally, the relation between DWI and IHTT results was supported by additional results of neurocognitive performance assessed using a single composite performance scale. Half of the msTBI participants (16 participants) had significantly slower IHTTs than the control group. This slow IHTT group demonstrated lower CC integrity (lower fractional anisotropy and higher mean diffusivity) and poorer neurocognitive functioning than both the control group and the msTBI group with normal IHTTs. Lower fractional anisotropy-a common sign of impaired WM-and slower IHTTs also predicted poor neurocognitive function. This study reveals that there is a subset of pediatric msTBI patients during the post-acute phase of injury who have markedly impaired CC functioning and structural integrity that is associated with poor neurocognitive functioning.
Significance statementTraumatic brain injury (TBI) is the primary cause of death and disability in children and adolescents. There is considerable heterogeneity in postinjury outcome, which is only partially explained by injury severity. Imaging biomarkers may help explain some of this variance, as diffusion weighted imaging is sensitive to the white matter disruption that is common after injury. The corpus callosum (CC) is one of the most commonly reported areas of disruption. In this multimodal study, we discovered a divergence within our pediatric moderate-to-severe TBI sample 1-5 months postinjury. A subset of the TBI sample showed significant impairment in CC function, which is supported by additional results showing deficits in CC structural integrity. This subset also had poorer neurocognitive functioning. Our research sheds light on postinjury heterogeneity.