Previously we talked about one search conducted by Champigny and collaborators; in this study, it was found that stroke survivors face more academic difficulties than their peers, probably due to cognitive deficits. This was what emerged although school grades were relatively similar to peers, thus suggesting the need for a more in-depth analysis to assess the difficulties that patients may face.
Another study conducted by Peterson and colleagues it focused on children who had had localized cortical stroke - part of the brain involved in high-level cognitive function.
The research included 27 children with this type of problem, analyzing many details such as the extent and location of the lesion, as well as the age of the event.
Regarding cognitive function, the children scored significantly lower than the average in the tests of working memory e processing speed - also these already found in research previously discussed.
Turning instead to academic performance, the most important difficulties concerned the calculation, while other learning related to reading, language and problem-solving skills were usually within the limits.
Furthermore, the visual-perceptual tests were placed within the norm but the scores in the tests were significantly lower motor coordination.
Several other issues were assessed via the parents’ reports, which noted subpar working memory or planning and organization capacities, as well as task initiation and monitoring. It is worth noting, however, that these evaluations are more subjective.
While aware of the smallness of the sample, the authors conducted further analyzes in an attempt to determine if any element in family history could help predict cognitive deficits. They thus observed that a stroke that occurred at an earlier age showed the greatest repercussions on perceptual reasoning and motor coordination, while a stroke at an “older” age affected above all the calculus area.
Although other indicators such as lesion extent and location were not good predictors, the researchers noted that approximately 86% of the lower-abilities had medium to large lesions, most frequently on the right and involving the frontal lobe.
One more interesting observation the authors make is that higher maternal education correlated with better verbal reasoning abilities in the child, as well as greater overall intellectual ability, word-reading, and receptive language.
Peterson and colleagues concluded that most children who have suffered from a cortical stroke get, generally, cognitive test scores consistent with expectations for their age. Nevertheless, there are nuanced deficits regarding working memory, processing speed or coordination (the latter, most likely, as a consequence of an impairment in the use of the dominant hand).
Factors capable of predicting cognitive functioning are not yet clearly defined and need further research before more clear-cut conclusions can be drawn.
Like others of its kind, this study faces shortcomings such as having a small sample size, including many very young participants (59% below 10 years old) and being retrospective in nature – that is, looking back on pre-existing data and drawing conclusions from it, rather than controlling how and what is being measured real-time and comparing the studied group to a matched control.
Nevertheless, it provides valuable insight into what is an under-represented issue, and forms worthy hypotheses to be further explored in large-scale studies.
- Champigny, CM, Deotto, A., Westmacott, R., Dlamini, N., & Desrocher, M. (2020). Academic outcome in pediatric ischemic stroke. Child Neuropsychology, 1-17.
- Peterson, RK, Williams, TS, McDonald, KP, Dlamini, N., & Westmacott, R. (2019). Cognitive and academic outcomes following childhood cortical stroke. Journal of child neurology, 34