Subtle Motor Signs in Children with Chronic Traumatic Brain Injury

Jewel E. Crasta, Jamie Sibel, Beth S. Slomine, E. Mark Mahone, Stewart H. Mostofsky, Stacy J. Suskauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The aim of the study was to characterize subtle motor signs in children with moderate-severe traumatic brain injury in the chronic phase of injury. Design Fourteen children with moderate (n = 6) or severe (n = 8) traumatic brain injury, ages 11-18 yrs, who had sustained their injury at least 1-yr before study participation (range 1-14 yrs since injury), and 14 matched typically developing controls were examined using the Physical and Neurological Examination of Subtle Signs (PANESS). To examine the neural correlates of subtle motor signs, measures of total cerebral volume and motor/premotor volume were derived from magnetic resonance imaging. Results Children with traumatic brain injury had significantly poorer PANESS performance than controls on the total timed subscore, proximal overflow, and the PANESS total score. Participants with severe traumatic brain injury had greater proximal overflow than those with moderate injury, after controlling for age at injury. Across all participants, greater proximal overflow correlated with reduced total cerebral volume, whereas within the traumatic brain injury group, reduced motor/premotor volume correlated with lower PANESS total score. Conclusions The study highlights the importance of examining subtle motor signs including overflow during clinical evaluation of chronic pediatric traumatic brain injury and establishes the clinical utility of the PANESS as a measure sensitive to chronic subtle motor signs in this population. To Claim CME Credits Complete the self-assessment activity and evaluation online at CME s Upon completion of this article, the reader should be able to: (1) Define subtle motor signs including motor overflow; (2) Identify subtle motor signs such as motor overflow during clinical evaluation of children with brain injury; and (3) Explain the relevance of examining subtle motor signs in chronic pediatric brain injury during clinical evaluations. Level Advanced. Accreditation The Association of Academic Physiatrists is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The Association of Academic Physiatrists designates this Journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)737-744
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019


  • Pediatric
  • Subtle Motor Signs
  • Traumatic Brain Injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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