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Am J Speech Lang Pathol. 2013 May;22(2):S438-48. doi: 10.1044/1058-0360(2013/12-0076).

Characterizing discourse deficits following penetrating head injury: a preliminary model.

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University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, USA.



Discourse analyses have demonstrated utility for delineating subtle communication deficits following closed head injuries (CHIs). The present investigation examined the discourse performance of a large group of individuals with penetrating head injury (PHI). Performance was also compared across 6 subgroups of PHI based on lesion locale. A preliminary model of discourse production following PHI was proposed and tested.


Story narratives were elicited from 2 groups of participants, 167 with PHI and 46 non brain-injured (NBI). Micro- and macrostructural components of each story were analyzed. Measures of memory, executive functions, and intelligence were also administered. All measures were compared across groups and PHI subgroups. The proposed model of discourse production was tested with a structural equation modeling procedure.


No differences for the discourse measures were noted across the six PHI subgroups. Three measures distinguished the PHI and NBI groups: narrative length, story grammar, and completeness. The proposed model of discourse production had an adequate-to-good fit with the cognitive and discourse data.


In spite of differing mechanisms of injury, the PHI group's discourse performance was consistent with what has been reported for individuals with CHI. The model tested represents a preliminary step toward understanding discourse production following traumatic brain injury.


executive functions; language disorders; memory; pragmatics; traumatic brain injury

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