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Social Communication And Rehabilitation Of Adolescents With Traumatic Brain Injury

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Social Communication and Rehabilitation of Adolescents with Traumatic Brain Injury

Introduction Adolescence, the time between puberty and adulthood, is marked by a shift toward greater reliance on the peer group that the family, resulting in a greater need for more complex social communication. It is also the age group which reports the highest incidents of traumatic brain injury (Turkstra, 2004). One could surmise the many reasons for this – increased risk taking or increased participation in contact and/or extreme sports, for example. Because the adolescent brain is still developing cognitive skills which support later-developing communication skills such as figurative language, complex pragmatic functions , and receptive and
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297). Those cognitive processes include executive functions such as initiation, problem solving, inhibition of behaviors, and planning as well as encoding and retrieval of semantic memory (Siddiqui, 2008). It therefore stands to reason that “behavioral studies on tasks including inhibitory control, processing speed, working memory and decision-making continues to develop during adolescence… [and] developments in performance are linked to the pruning and myelination processes occurring … in the frontal cortex (Blakemore, 2006, p. 301). The prefrontal cortex, which covers the anterior portion of the frontal lobe, has been associated with both awareness and theory of mind, which are two very important functions that are necessary for effective social communication (Blakemore, 2006). Additionally, the surge of hormones during adolescence, the increased time spent with peers and the continued development of emotion processing contribute to the rapid development and proliferation of social communication at that age.

Assessment Just as with adults, the impact that a traumatic brain injury has on the communication skills and their underlying cognitive processes of an adolescent depends greatly on the nature, specifically location, and severity of the insult. Closed brain injuries in adolescents tend to damage the prefrontal regions. As a result,
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