Epidemiology and consequences of head injury : a comparision of focal/sharp head injuries and generalized/blunt head injuries : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University
The purpose of the present study was to compare neurobehavioural outcomes and performance on neuropsychological measures of two groups of subjects with head injuries - those with focal/sharp head injuries and those with generalized/blunt head injuries. The study was conducted in two parts. Part one involved examining epidemiology and neurobehavioural outcomes of 235 subjects with head injuries. As expected, young males with low educational levels were most likely to sustain head injury. Maori subjects were overly represented in comparison to general population statistics. Subjects sustaining head injuries from focal/sharp head injuries, such as assaults, exhibited more irritability than subjects with generalized/blunt head injuries. No conclusive information was obtained concerning post-traumatic epilepsy or post-traumatic stress disorder. Part two of this study involved a comparison of the performance of subjects on a wide range of neuropsychological measures. It was predicted that subjects with focal/sharp head injuries would exhibit more specific cognitive difficulties than subjects with generalized/blunt head injuries. Some support was provided for this hypothesis, but more often the data contradicted it. Subjects with focal/sharp head injuries were less likely to experience difficulties in areas sensitive to frontal lobe damage. Overall, in most cases, the subjects in this study performed at lower levels on the neuropsychological measures than the norms and control subjects in other studies.