Follow-Up After PICU Discharge for Patients With Acquired Brain Injury: The Role of an Abbreviated Neuropsychological Evaluation and a Return-to-School Program*

Cydni N. Williams, Trevor A. Hall, Victoria A. Baker, Daniel J. Chertow, W. Michael Vanderlind, Christopher C. Bosworth, Mary E. Hartman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: To present the results of an abbreviated testing protocol used to screen for neurocognitive and psychological sequelae of critical illness among PICU survivors with acquired brain injury in our post-discharge follow-up programs and describe our process for facilitating this population's return to academic life. DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study. SETTING: Neurocritical care follow-up programs at two U.S. academic, tertiary medical/surgical PICUs. PATIENTS: Children greater than 4 years old enrolled in the neurocritical care follow-up programs (n = 289) at these institutions who underwent neurocognitive and psychological testing between 2017 and 2021. INTERVENTIONS: None. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: One month after discharge from the hospital, nearly half of the children and/or their parents (48%) in our neurocritical care follow-up programs identified some type of emotional or behavioral concern compared to their premorbid state, and 15% reported some type of cognitive concern. On evaluation, 35% of the children were given a new neurocognitive diagnosis. Neurocognitive domains regulated by the executive functioning system were the most commonly affected, including attention (54%), memory (31%), and processing speed (27%). One-quarter of the children were given a new psychological diagnosis, most commonly post-traumatic stress disorder or stress-related symptoms (12%). Over 80% of patients in the programs were given new recommendations for school, for both new academic services and new classroom accommodations. Over half of children (57%) were referred for comprehensive follow-up neuropsychological evaluation. CONCLUSIONS: Abbreviated neurocognitive and psychological evaluation successfully identifies the same deficits commonly found among PICU survivors who undergo longer, more complete testing protocols. When combined with services aimed at successfully reintegrating PICU survivors back to school, this focused evaluation can provide an effective and efficient means of screening for cognitive and emotional deficits among PICU survivors and establish a rationale for early academic support upon the child's return to school.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)807-817
Number of pages11
JournalPediatric Critical Care Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2023


  • educational intervention
  • neurocognitive testing
  • neuropsychology
  • pediatric critical care
  • recovery
  • school


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