x-ray-skull-head-injuryIt is clear that many victims of concussions – also called minor traumatic brain injuries (MTBI) – suffer long-lasting consequences. A new study indicates that the persistent symptoms from concussions may actually be post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Many victims recover from a concussion over time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But for some victims, a concussion can have a lasting impact. Common problems include:

  • Headache
  • Blurry vision
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Sleep problems
  • Sadness

The medical community currently classifies such symptoms as post-concussion syndrome (PCS), a term that can be controversial because these symptoms may be linked to other conditions and are subjective.

However, a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry discusses how many concussions are sustained during psychologically distressing events that can lead to PTSD – a condition that is better known by the public and in the medical community.

Is Post-Concussive Syndrome Really PTSD?

The study, conducted in France, examined patients to see whether persistent symptoms experienced three months after a head injury were specific to the concussion or may be better considered a form of PTSD.

The researchers studied a group of head-injury patients who were treated at a hospital in France between December 2007 and February 2009. The study included a control group of patients who did not have head injuries.

The results showed 21.2 percent of the head-injury patients met the diagnosis for PCS, and 8.8 percent met the criteria for PTSD. The study also found that 16.3 percent of patients without head injuries met the criteria for PCS, and 2.2 percent of patients without head injuries met the diagnosis for PTSD.

The researchers concluded that the persistent symptoms experienced by concussion patients should be considered PTSD instead of the specific condition of PCS.

“Further use of PCS in head-injury patients has important consequences, in terms of treatment, insurance resource allocation and advice provided to patients and their families,” the researchers said. “Available evidence does not support further use of PCS. Our results also stressed the importance of considering PTSD risk and treatment for patients with MTBI.”

PTSD Diagnosis May Play a Role in Compensation

This is significant because a diagnosis of PTSD impacts the care an injured person receives and can affect how much insurance may pay for treatment. Some patients with PTSD may recover fully with time, but for many the condition is chronic or recurring.

Being diagnosed with PTSD can also affect a legal case if the injury happened because of someone else’s negligence. If you or a loved one is still suffering from the consequences of a concussion caused by someone else’s fault, it’s important to contact a qualified lawyer to evaluate your case and get you the help you need.


JAMA Psychiatry – Persistent Symptoms Following Concussion May Be Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Medical News Today – After a concussion, persistent symptoms ‘may be PTSD’