Understanding head injury and intellectual recovery from brain damage: is IQ an adequate measure?

G. Cahn and R. E. Gould,
Bull. Amer. Acad. Psychiatry & the Law 24(1): 135-42, 1996.
A person's intelligence (or IQ) has long been synonymous with cognitive and general abilities to function daily on an effective level. When traumatic brain injury occurs, there is a natural desire to find some measure that identifies the amount of damage that has occurred and whether it is permanent or temporary. Given the popularity of the IQ test, there is a tendency to use this measure as such a yardstick. It is argued that such a global measure is not appropriate. The predominant reason that it is not a wise choice is that IQ test does not tap into many of the critical areas of a person's functioning, such as personality regulation, shorter-term memory, various types of attentional capacity, and the ability to organize and plan effectively. Rather, to truly and accurately reflect a person's neuropsychological strengths and weaknesses requires the use of many different measures, not just a single one such as an IQ score.