Michael Roy, MD, Col. (Ret.) on the Co-Occurrence of TBI and PTSD

Sometimes PTSD is not fully manifest until treatment for the symptoms of TBI begins.

See more video clips with Dr. Michael Roy.

[Dr. Michael Roy] For what we call mild TBI—those who either didn't lose consciousness or lost consciousness for only a short period of time, and the basic structural image of the brain looks normal— CT scan or MRI—we don't really see significant abnormalities. But on more subtle measures, we might be able to identify it. For those with mild TBI, the rate of PTSD is very high. For moderate to severe TBI, it's a little harder to sort out. And I think the degree of amnesia—not remembering the events— as well as losing consciousness for a long period of time maybe initially provides some sort of protection against PTSD. So I wouldn't necessarily say that the rate of PTSD is lower in them. It's still pretty high. But I think often it's not fully manifest until we've treated the TBI— the moderate to severe TBI. And then maybe the memories start to come back and so forth. And then the PTSD may come more to the forefront. So there's a lot PTSD in those who have had a TBI for sure. Is it true the other way around? Do most of those with PTSD have a history of TBI? Not necessarily, because there's a lot of other life-threatening experiences that can occur in combat that don't necessarily involve a brain injury.
Posted on BrainLine May 28, 2013.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough, Justin Rhodes, and Erica Queen, BrainLine.