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Neural Regen Res. 2017 Sep;12(9):1405-1412. doi: 10.4103/1673-5374.215242.

Post electrical or lightning injury syndrome: a proposal for an American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual formulation with implications for treatment.

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Medicine, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.
Lightning and Electrical Injuries, Mt Ommaney Family Practice, Mt Ommaney, Brisbane, Australia.
Forensic Diagnostic Center of District Nine, Cambridge, OH, USA.
Lightning Injury Research Program, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.
African Centres for Lightning and Electromagnetics Network, Kampala, Uganda.


In the past, victims of electrical and lightning injuries have been assessed in a manner lacking a systematic formulation, and against ad hoc criteria, particularly in the area of neuropsychological disability. In this manner patients have, for example, only been partially treated, been poorly or incorrectly diagnosed, and have been denied the full benefit of compensation for their injuries. This paper contains a proposal for diagnostic criteria particularly for the neuropsychological aspects of the post injury syndrome. It pays attention to widely published consistent descriptions of the syndrome, and a new cluster analysis of post electrical injury patients. It formulates a proposal which could be incorporated into future editions of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). The major neuropsychological consequences include neurocognitive dysfunction, and memory subgroup dysfunction, with ongoing consequences, and sometimes including progressive or delayed psychiatric, cognitive, and/or neurological symptoms. The proposed diagnostic criteria insist on a demonstrated context for the injury, both specifying the shock circumstance, and also physical consequences. It allows for a certain delay in onset of symptoms. It recognizes exclusory conditions. The outcome is a proposal for a DSM classification for the post electrical or lightning injury syndrome. This proposal is considered important for grounding patient treatment, and for further treatment trials. Options for treatment in electrical or lightning injury are summarised, and future trials are foreshadowed.


American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual; electrical injury; injury; lightning injury; neuropsychiatry; neuropsychology

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