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TBI & PTSD: Is There a Connection?

July 3, 2017 · FLEMING | NOLEN | JEZ, L.L.P.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) refer to the injuries victims sustain as a result of trauma to the head, such as blunt force trauma resulting from auto accidents or falls, blasts, and the rapid acceleration of the brain back and forth within the skull. When it comes to brain injuries, medical professionals are well aware that their impact on victims and their wellbeing can be difficult to predict.

While all cases vary, TBI victims can suffer from a number of short- and long-term consequences, including headaches, difficulty concentrating, sensitivity to light or sounds, fatigue, dizziness, and nausea, among others. In some cases, TBI can also be associated with a number of behavioral changes, including changes to one’s mood.

Whether a TBI is mild, moderate, or severe (terms used to describe the initial trauma itself), symptoms are largely unpredictable and vary from individual to individual. However, because brain injuries and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) both result from trauma, some victims may experience overlapping symptoms. In fact, the National Center for PTSD notes that many people who suffer a TBI do develop PTSD. While the TBI may not be the direct result of PTSD, the underlying trauma certainly can be.

While there is a connection between TBI and PTSD, differentiating between them can be difficult. Still, accurate diagnoses are important in aiding victims in their understanding of symptoms, treatment options, and recovery. Here are a few additional details about the relationship between TBI and PTSD:

  • Diagnosing – Diagnosing TBI can be difficult, and it requires a comprehensive evaluation of a patient, including the nature of their injury and their symptoms. Doctors may use imaging tests to identify trauma to the brain and complications like swelling or bleeding, but these do not always indicate whether or not a victim suffer a brain injury. Because symptoms of PTSD can also overlap with symptoms of TBI, examinations by specialists become critical.
  • Treatments – In many cases, victims of TBI are able to recover fully without much formal treatment, However, there are cognitive therapies and rehabilitation than can help improve function. Additionally, effective treatments for PTSD, such as Prolonged Exposure and Cognitive Processing Therapy, have also been found to be beneficial for victims who experience mild traumatic brain injuries.
  • Recovery and rehabilitation – When accurate diagnoses are made, victims can better understand the effects trauma has had on their bodies and minds, and can take steps to seek the help and treatment they need. This includes relaxation and meditation techniques, stress acceptance, social engagement, and gradual returns to activities they once enjoyed. Recovering from both TBI and PTSD can be a process, but with the right information and assistance, recoveries can be made.

Fleming | Nolen | Jez, L.L.P. is a firm comprised of national trial lawyers who draw from over 170 years of combined experience to fight for victims who were injured by negligence. This includes victims who experienced traumatic brain injuries through no fault of their own. If you would like more information about your rights, whether you may be entitled to compensation, and what treatment may look like for you, do not hesitate to call (713) 621-7944 for a free consultation.