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Olfactory training effects in children after mild traumatic brain injury.

Brain Injury 2023 September 20
OBJECTIVE: Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) might impair the sense of smell and cognitive functioning. Repeated, systematic exposure to odors, i.e., olfactory training (OT) has been proposed for treatment of olfactory dysfunctions, including post-traumatic smell loss. Additionally, OT has been shown to mitigate cognitive deterioration in older population and enhance selected cognitive functions in adults. We aimed to investigate olfactory and cognitive effects of OT in the pediatric population after mTBI, likely to exhibit cognitive and olfactory deficits.

METHODS: Our study comprised 159 children after mTBI and healthy controls aged 6-16 years ( M  = 9.68 ± 2.78 years, 107 males), who performed 6-months-long OT with a set of 4 either high- or low-concentrated odors. Before and after OT we assessed olfactory functions, fluid intelligence, and executive functions.

RESULTS: OT with low-concentrated odors increased olfactory sensitivity in children after mTBI. Regardless of health status, children who underwent OT with low-concentrated odors had higher fluid intelligence scores at post-training measurement, whereas scores of children performing OT with high-concentrated odors did not change.

CONCLUSION: Our study suggests that OT with low-concentrated odors might accelerate rehabilitation of olfactory sensitivity in children after mTBI and support cognitive functions in the area of fluid intelligence regardless of head trauma.

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