Complicated versus uncomplicated mild traumatic brain injuries: A comparison of psychological, cognitive, and post-concussion symptom outcomes

Justin E. Karr, Grant L. Iverson, Michael W. Williams, Sheng Jean Huang, Chi Cheng Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Introduction: A complicated mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) is defined as mild by all clinical severity indicators but is complicated due to a traumatic intracranial abnormality visible on neuroimaging. Researchers have reported mixed findings regarding whether neuropsychological and functional outcomes following complicated MTBI are worse than, or similar to, outcomes following uncomplicated MTBI. This study examined patients referred from a Taiwanese emergency department to a neurosurgical outpatient clinic. Participants with complicated MTBI, uncomplicated MTBI, and those who did not undergo head computed tomography (CT) were compared on psychological, neuropsychological, and post-concussion symptom outcomes within 21 days of injury. Method: Participants with complicated MTBI (n = 42), uncomplicated MTBI (n = 77), and no head CT (n = 172) completed the Paced Auditory Serial Attention Test, Taiwanese Word Sequence Learning Test, a semantic Verbal Fluency Test, the Checklist of Post-Concussion Symptoms, and the Beck Depression and Anxiety Inventories. Results: No significant differences were observed between groups on any measure. For individual post-concussion symptoms, dizziness, anxiety, and attention difficulty were endorsed more often after uncomplicated MTBIs, but these group differences were not significant after controlling for multiple comparisons. Conclusions: Participants with complicated MTBIs did not have worse acute or subacute outcomes than participants with uncomplicated MTBIs or no head CT. These results are consistent with many studies finding comparable outcomes between those with complicated and uncomplicated MTBIs. This study is limited by small sample size and minimal information on intracranial abnormalities, broadly categorizing groups based on positive or negative neuroimaging as opposed to specific lesion types and locations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1049-1058
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Grant Iverson, Ph.D. has been reimbursed by the government, professional scientific bodies, and commercial organizations for discussing or presenting research relating to mild TBI and sport-related concussion at meetings, scientific conferences, and symposiums. He has a clinical and consulting practice in forensic neuropsychology, including expert testimony, involving individuals who have sustained mild TBIs. He has received research funding from several test publishing companies, including ImPACT Applications, Inc., CNS Vital Signs, and Psychological Assessment Resources (PAR, Inc.), and the National Football League. He serves as a scientific advisor for Sway Operations, LLC, Highmark, Inc., and BioDirection, Inc. He acknowledges unrestricted philanthropic support from ImPACT Applications, Inc., the Mooney-Reed Charitable Foundation, Boston Bolts, and National Rugby League.

Funding Information:
Dr. Yang reports that this study was supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology in Taiwan (MOST 108-2410-H-004-087- and MOST 108-2918-I-004-003-). Dr. Iverson acknowledges unrestricted philanthropic support from the Heinz Family Foundation and the Spaulding Research Institute.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Brain concussion
  • Taiwan
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • mental health
  • neuropsychological tests
  • post-concussion syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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