WAGNER, MARK TODD; PHD

                         MEMPHIS STATE UNIVERSITY, 1985

                         PSYCHOLOGY, CLINICAL (0622)

                         Head trauma has been conceptualized traditionally as primarily a neurosurgical problem and the recovery
                         process has been thought to involve neural reorganization. The current emphasis in the literature seems
                         to have turned to a multidimensional perspective for determining the consequences of head injury.
                         Recent evidence has suggested that social support may play a role in ameliorating psychosocial and
                         physical problems. The current study was conducted to determine the extent to which social factors may
                         serve as one set of mediating variables which influence eventual outcome following head injury. Forty
                         individuals with closed head injury and 26 controls from the community were recruited as subjects for this
                         study. The experimental subjects were separated into three levels of severity based on duration of
                         post-traumatic amnesia. They were interviewed with questionnaires one to eight years after their injury in
                         order to determine perceived level of functioning. Wide variability in levels of perceived overall level of
                         recovery was found. Head-injured subjects complained of more physical, cognitive, emotional, and
                         vocational problems than control subjects. Further, significant structural changes had occurred in the
                         head-injured subjects' social networks. Satisfaction with the social network and number of friends in the
                         social network accounted for a significant amount of the variance in the overall level of perceived
                         recovery. These results suggest a strong relationship between psychosocial factors and perceived level
                         of recovery from head injury and offer a theoretical framework for quantifying change. Implications were
                         discussed in terms of diagnostic and intervention issues.


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