A new study finds that a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) can increase the risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The knowledge that even mild head trauma can lead to PTSD could improve screening, detection and timely treatment for the disorder among at-risk populations.
Researchers explored the effect of mTBI among civilian emergency services providers, rather than military personnel.
The study found that about 27 percent of the patients with mTBI who returned for follow-up care at 6 months post-injury and underwent screening were positive for PTSD.
The study is found in the peer-reviewed Journal of Neurotrauma.
Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco General Hospital, and Washington University in St. Louis, evaluated a variety of factors related to mental health and function.
Specific indicators included functional disability, psychiatric symptoms, satisfaction with life and performance on measures of visual processing and mental flexibility. The researchers also assessed the predictive value of pre-injury education, psychiatric history, and cause of the TBI.
“This study represents yet another important communication originating from the CDC and the TRACK-TBI study group that now reframes PTSD within the context of civilian TBI,” said John T. Povlishock, Ph.D., editor-in-chief of the Journal of Neurotrauma, and professor at the Medical College of Virginia Campus of Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond.
“The finding of a relatively significant proportion of civilian patients experiencing PTSD following mild TBI calls for its more routine evaluation, particularly in those patients with the added comorbid factors identified in this report.”