Mild TBIs raise risk for PTSD, other mental health problems

A study published in JAMA Psychiatry has linked mild traumatic brain injuries to a higher risk for mental health problems like post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. West Virginia residents should know that the CDC defines a TBI as any injury, either caused by a bump, blow or jolt or by something penetrating the head, that disrupts normal cognitive function. TBIs range from mild to severe.

The study focused on 1,155 hospital patients with TBIs and 230 with non-head injuries, all from 11 different hospitals with trauma centers across the U.S. Of those with TBIs, 21.2 percent developed PTSD or depression up to six months after the injury. Of the latter, 12.1 percent developed one or the other.

Close to 62 percent of mild TBIs were caused by motor vehicle accidents, while just above 29 percent were due to falls and other unintentional injuries. Those with mental health problems prior to the TBI were also more likely to get PTSD or a major depressive disorder. Black patients with mild TBIs saw a higher risk than other TBI patients, though more research is necessary to understand this.

However, the results are limited because they cannot be generalized to other hospitals and communities. In particular, some experts believe they cannot be generalized to sports-related concussions (concussions being a subset of mild TBIs).

Auto accidents, slip and falls, assault and sports-related accidents can all lead to traumatic brain injury. In cases where victims incur a TBI through another's negligence, there may be good grounds for a personal injury claim, but it might be a good idea to consult with a lawyer beforehand. Personal injury lawyers may opt to hire investigators to gather proof of negligence and medical experts to measure the extent of injuries. They might be able to negotiate for a settlement covering past and future medical expenses and more.

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