Navigating the Complex Interactions between Preinjury Characteristics and Postinjury Outcomes Following Mild Head Injury: Does Trait Mindfulness Play a Role?
MetadataShow full item record
Despite increased awareness of the link between mild head injury (MHI) and long-term negative functional outcomes, there is a relative paucity of research investigating modifiable risk factors that contribute to chronic post-injury symptomatology. To address this gap in the literature, the current study sought to examine trait mindfulness as it relates to cognitive functioning after MHI, as well as explore the possible mechanisms underlying the potential benefits of trait mindfulness in this population. In a quasi-experimental, cross-sectional design, levels of trait mindfulness, cognitive functioning, and physiological indices were measured in a sample of 52 university students (38% with a self-reported history of MHI). As expected, trait mindfulness was associated with better cognitive functioning, such that those with higher levels of this trait reported less executive dysfunction and performed better on measures of processing speed. Similar to previous studies (e.g., Baker & Good, 2014), it was also found that those with a history of MHI exhibited physiological ‘underarousal’, as indicated by lower electrodermal activity, than their non-injured peers. Moreover, it was found that trait mindfulness was associated with higher levels of physiological arousal (i.e., greater electrodermal activity). Interestingly, results also showed that MHI participants who displayed low arousal as well as low levels of trait mindfulness obtained the lowest scores on measures of inhibitory control. It was concluded that although the exact causal mechanisms of trait mindfulness remain unclear, it may be that for those who have sustained an MHI, the possible arousal-inducing/awareness- amplifying effects of mindfulness could mitigate postinjury cognitive symptoms, representing a possible target for therapeutic intervention.