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J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2008 Feb;30(2):163-72. doi: 10.1080/13803390701300524.

Measuring premorbid IQ in traumatic brain injury: an examination of the validity of the Wechsler Test of Adult Reading (WTAR).

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Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Center, ON, Canada.


Estimation of premorbid IQ in traumatic brain injury (TBI) is clinically and scientifically valuable because it permits the quantification of the cognitive impact of injury. This is achieved by comparing performances on tests of current ability to estimates of premorbid IQ, thereby enabling current capacity to be interpreted in light of preinjury ability. However, the validity of premorbid IQ tests that are commonly used for TBI has been questioned. In the present study, we examined the psychometric properties of a recently developed test, the Wechsler Test of Adult Reading (WTAR), which has yet to be examined for TBI. The cognitive performance of a group of 24 patients recovering from TBI (with a mean Glasgow Coma Scale score in the severely impaired range) was measured at 2 and 5 months postinjury. On both occasions, patients were administered three tests that have been used to measure premorbid IQ (the WTAR and the Vocabulary and Matrix Reasoning subtests of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale 3rd Edition, WAIS-III) and three tests of current ability (Symbol Digit Modalities Test-Oral and Similarities and Block Design subtests of the WAIS-III). We found that performance significantly improved on tests of current cognitive ability, confirming recovery. In contrast, stable performance was observed on the WTAR from Assessment 1 (M = 34.25/50) to Assessment 2 (M = 34.21/50; r = .970, p < .001). Mean improvement across assessments was negligible (t = -0.086, p = .47; Cohen's d = -.005), and minimal individual participant change was observed (modal scaled score change = 0). WTAR scores were also highly similar to scores on a demographic estimate of premorbid IQ. Thus, converging evidence--high stability during recovery from TBI and similar IQ estimates to those of a demographic equation suggests that the WTAR is a valid measure of premorbid IQ for TBI. Where word pronunciation tests are indicated (i.e., in patients for whom English is spoken and read fluently), these results endorse the use of the WTAR for patients with TBI.

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