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Brain Inj. 1997 Nov;11(11):783-90.

'Postconcussive' symptoms in persons with chronic pain.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


The purpose of this study was to examine the base rate of cognitive and neurobehavioural complaints in patients with chronic pain (N = 170) who had not sustained a head injury. The patients completed a packet of questionnaires that contained numerous questions regarding physical, cognitive, and psychological symptoms. The 'postconcussive-like' symptoms were selected and analysed. Specific symptom endorsement rates ranged from 5% to 76.5%. Disturbed sleep, fatigue, and irritability were reported by the majority of chronic pain patients. Cognitive complaints relating to forgetfulness (29%), difficulty maintaining attention (18%), and difficulty with concentration or thinking (16.5%) were endorsed by a significant minority of patients. Most patients (80.6%) endorsed three or more symptoms from Category C of the DSM-IV Postconcussional Disorder research criteria. This study further illustrates that postconcussive-like symptoms are not unique sequelae of mild head injury, and the presence of chronic pain should be considered when interpreting patients' physical, cognitive, and psychological complaints following closed head injury.

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