Objective: To assess the validity of the Westmead PTA scale in school-aged children treated with opiate analgesics. Method: Twenty-eight hospitalized children without brain injury, aged between 8 and 16 years treated with opiate analgesics for pain relief following surgery were tested on the Westmead PTA scale. Pain and stress levels were also self-reported each day. Results: Only 29% (n = 7) of children assessed over four days obtained a maximum score of 12/12 on three consecutive days, thus 71% would have been deemed to have been in PTA when they were not. The percentage of children who obtained a maximum score significantly decreased over consecutive days of assessment, due to an increase in error rate on picture memory items. Self-reported pain and stress ratings were not correlated with PTA scores. Conclusions: Opiate analgesia can disrupt performance on the Westmead PTA scale in school-aged children resulting in a high false-positive error rate. It is therefore important to record pain medication schedules and interpret results cautiously when opiate analgesia is used following a TBI. Alteration of the method of administration of the memory items should be researched as this may increase the validity of the scale for children with TBI treated with opiate analgesics.
- PTA assessment
- traumatic brain injury