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J Nerv Ment Dis. 1998 Oct;186(10):589-96.

Posttraumatic stress symptomatology after childhood traumatic brain injury.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA.


The purpose of this study was to quantify and to identify predictors of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomatology after traumatic brain injury (TBI). Fifty children aged 6 to 14 years, hospitalized after TBI, were assessed soon after TBI regarding injury severity and preinjury psychiatric, socioeconomic, family functioning, and family psychiatric history status; neuroimaging was also analyzed. Psychiatric assessments were repeated 3, 6, 12, and 24 months after TBI. Only 2 of 46 (4%) subjects with at least one follow-up assessment developed PTSD. However, the frequency with which subjects experienced at least one PTSD symptom ranged from 68% in the first 3 months to 12% at 2 years in assessed children. The presence of an internalizing disorder at time of injury followed by greater injury severity were the most consistent predictors of PTSD symptomatology. It is apparent, therefore, that PTSD and subsyndromal posttraumatic stress disturbances occur despite neurogenic amnesia. These problems should be treated, particularly if symptoms persist beyond 3 months.

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