The Influence of Aging and Cognitive Functioning on Goal Completion for Individuals with Moderate to Severe Brain Injury

Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP, Chair, Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Donald P Masey, PsyD, Chairperson

Second Advisor

Stephen R Poteau, PhD

Third Advisor

Karen Lindgren, PhD


Many researchers have looked at the effects of aging (Goh & Park, 2009; Good et al., 2001; Raz & Rodrigue, 2006), but aging with an acquired brain injury presents a complication, due to the compounding effects of aging with the brain injury itself. Therefore, a clearer understanding of the relationship between TBI and the naturally occurring process of aging is necessary. Although several studies have demonstrated that age at injury affects the age-related decline seen in survivors of brain injury (LeBlanc et al., 2006; Deb & Burns, 2007), research is lacking in regard to the effects of additional age-related variables and cognitive functioning on functional outcomes in long-term rehabilitation. Age is a complicated variable that incorporates several time-related factors, including age at injury, time since injury, and time in rehabilitation. Research has not looked at the unique contribution of each of these components on functional outcomes within this population. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of aging on completion of rehabilitation treatment goals among individuals receiving treatment at a post-acute brain injury rehabilitation program. Both male and female participants over the age of 18 with a medical diagnosis of moderate to severe brain injury were included in this study. Multiple regressions analyses of the data from 44 participants indicated that age-related variables are not significant predictors of the annual treatment goals completed. The number of years since injury and scores for adjustment to injury approached significance for predicting the number of annual treatment goals when evaluated together. These findings indicate the importance of adjustment to injury over time for successful completion of rehabilitation goals for individuals with a history of acquired/traumatic brain injury. Future research should focus on a larger sample size from multiple rehabilitation facilities to further evaluate the effects of age-related variables, in addition to adjustment to injury, on the completion of annual treatment goals.

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