How Should Co-Occurrence of TBI and PTSD be Treated?


How should healthcare providers treat the co-occurrence of TBI and PTSD?


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[Lt. Col. Philip Holcombe] With regard to patients that are experiencing both post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, there are some similar treatments, and the reason that they're similar is because the rates of PTSD are higher in service members who have been wounded. And so often it's actually difficult to tell the difference between a moderate or a mild TBI and post-traumatic stress disorder simply because they can end up going hand-in-hand. If you think about having a life-threatening experience, certainly one that leads to a traumatic brain injury would fall into that category. Not only that, both are issues of the brain. Certainly, it's clear that traumatic brain injury is an issue of the brain, but post-traumatic stress disorder is also an issue of the brain. Both can impact the same areas of functioning. Both can impact emotional functioning, occupational functioning, and so the treatments can be very similar. No having said that, there will also be some differences. With regard to traumatic brain injury, it may lead to a medication regimen that providers need to be aware of when they start thinking about using other kinds of medications to treat symptoms of the TBI or the PTSD. And so it's very important when it comes to medication treatments that the patient and the provider are very aware of all of the medications that are being taken to make sure that we avoid dangerous outcomes related to medication interactions.
Posted on BrainLine May 8, 2013.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Erica Queen, BrainLine.