Language and cognition in a bilingual child after traumatic brain injury in infancy: Long-term plasticity and vulnerability

Alessandro Tavano, Susanna Galbiati, Monica Recla, Francesca Formica, Flavio Giordano, Lorenzo Genitori, Sandra Strazzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Primary objective: This study aimed at investigating the long-term effects of the combination of severity of injury and time of injury in a 6-year-old bilingual Arabic-Italian child who sustained a severe left traumatic brain injury at the age of 7 months. Methods and procedures: Standard neurological, cognitive and neuropsychological assessments were administered at 40 days after surgery and again at 18, 31, 62 and 73 months. Main outcomes and results: The child presented with developmental arrest at 18 and 31 months. Later on, right hemiparetic and oculomotor signs gradually improved to a significant extent, as well as dysexecutive, visuospatial and praxic deficits. At present, persistent language disorders in a fluent speech characterize the child's profile to a similar extent and type in both languages, suggesting common underlying learning strategies which are ineffective for procedurally acquiring language. Conclusions: This case confirms that children who sustain severe left hemisphere traumatic brain injury in infancy present with increased vulnerability to linguistic deficits. Left frontotemporal, cortical-subcortical lesions which occur during very early language development may permanently disrupt the procedural language acquisition network required for first language acquisition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-171
Number of pages5
JournalBrain Injury
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Bilingual aphasia
  • Neuroplasticity
  • Recovery
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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