Pain Following Brain Injuries in Children May Be Exacerbated by PTSD

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Due to the high rates of both conditions in veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have been closely associated for years. But, a new study may have found another link between PTSD, pain and children with TBI that could open to doors to better treatment options.

University of Queensland researcher Erin Brown said the study, led by the Centre of National Research on Disability and Rehabilitation Medicine (CONROD) discovered PTSD was significantly contributing to pain in children suffering from TBI, not the other way around as previously thought.

“It has been well established that PTSD and pain are related after injury, but until now it has been unclear whether pain is causing children to develop PTSD, or whether PTSD is causing the pain,” Brown said.

Brown believes the study shows that early identification and treatment of PTSD in children with TBI can help lead to faster recovery and less pain. She also says the study was the first to examine the interaction between PTSD and pain in a group of children with TBI.

The study was published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology and evaluated 195 children between the ages of 6 and 15 who were admitted to an Australian hospital with mild-to-severe traumatic brain injuries.

The children were screened for PTSD by a clinician, while parents were surveyed on their child’s brain levels over an 18 month period after the injury.

It is coincidentally a fitting day for the release of these findings, as today marks Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day in the United States as designated by Congress.

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