Does TBI Cause PTSD?

Dr. Jack Tsao says that, to date, there is no research showing that TBI directly causes PTSD but there may be a higher likelihood of someone with TBI developing PTSD.

Obviously, two of the major medical conditions that the military is concerned about are traumatic brain injury and PTSD. And there's been a lot of debate as to what the relationship between the two actually are. There was one—most of the research has been from civilian cases of mild brain injury or concussion and looking at sort of who develops these post-injury symptoms. So there's a lot of overlap clinically in terms of the symptoms people have from the post-concussion syndrome as well as from mental health disorders, and sorting it out obviously takes often a team of professionals examining this—the wounded service member. In terms of the direct link, there's no direct link right now that TBI actually causes PTSD. The risk of developing PTSD in some studies appears to be higher after you've had a concussion, whereas in others there's— it's seems to be no greater than the average person might have. So there's still a lot of debate as to what—whether the symptoms truly sort of result from the concussion or not. People can have both a history of concussion as well as develop PTSD later on, and clearly the medical professionals that you see, as a wounded service member, will help guide the care that you need, and they will tailor the care based upon your individual symptoms and treating those in particular.
Posted on BrainLine February 4, 2014.

About the author: Jack Tsao, MD

Jack Tsao, MD, DPhil, CAPT, MC, USN is a United States Navy neurologist and the director of Traumatic Brain Injury Programs for the US Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, professor of Neurology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and fellow of the American Academy of Neurology.