This study aimed to investigate the impact of mild to severe pediatric TBI on the structural connectome. Children aged 8-14 years with trauma control (TC) injury (n = 27) were compared to children with mild TBI and risk factors for complicated TBI (mildRF+, n = 20) or moderate/severe TBI (n=16) at 2.8 years post-injury. Probabilistic tractography on diffusion tensor imaging data was used in combination with graph theory to study structural connectivity. Functional outcome was measured using neurocognitive tests and parent and teacher questionnaires for behavioral functioning. The results revealed no evidence for an impact of mildRF+ TBI on the structural connectome. In contrast, the moderate/severe TBI group showed longer characteristic path length (P=0.022, d=0.82) than the TC group. Furthermore, longer characteristic path length was related to poorer intelligence and poorer working memory in children with TBI. In conclusion, children have abnormal organization of the structural connectome after moderate/severe TBI, which may be implicated in neurocognitive dysfunction associated with pediatric TBI. These findings should be interpreted in the context of our exploratory analyses, which indicate that the definition and weighting of connectivity (e.g., streamline density, fractional anisotropy) influence the properties of the reconstructed connectome and its sensitivity to the impact and outcome of pediatric TBI.

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Keywords Functional outcome, Pediatrics, Structural connectivity, Traumatic brain injury
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Journal Human Brain Mapping
Königs, M, Van Heurn, L.W.E, Bakx, R, Vermeulen, R.J, Goslings, J.C, Poll-The, B.T, … Pouwels, P.J.W. (2017). The structural connectome of children with traumatic brain injury. Human Brain Mapping. doi:10.1002/hbm.23614