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Brain injuries may make it harder to recover from PTSD

A new study suggests that post-traumatic stress disorder patients who also suffer from an underlying traumatic brain injury may have more difficulty recovering from post-traumatic stress symptoms. The research could impact future treatments for PTSD patients in Arizona and nationwide.

Medical professionals have long understood that individuals with either PTSD or TBI experience high rates of disability and suicide. The conditions are also known to frequently co-occur. In order to better understand which brain networks are disturbed by these disorders, researchers used a sophisticated MRI analysis technique known as graph theory to examine the brain networks of 208 military veterans who experienced a traumatic event. The technique allows scientists to observe brain connections at a new level of complexity.

The analysis showed that veterans with PTSD had brain alterations in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, which could make it difficult for the brain to correctly identify non-threatening situations. Meanwhile, veterans with both PTSD and TBI were found to have brain alterations to their basal ganglia and prefrontal cortex, which impacts memory. In the future, researchers hope to examine soldiers both before and after they are deployed in order to identify whether any of these alterations are present before trauma occurs. However, even with that information, experts question whether science will ever be able to fully understand the ways in which TBI and PTSD impact each other within the brain. For now, it appears that TBI likely complicates the ability of PTSD patients to recover from post-traumatic stress symptoms.

A person who has suffered a serious brain injury due to the negligent act of another may benefit by consulting with an attorney. In some cases, it may be advisable to file a civil lawsuit against the responsible party seeking compensation for medical expenses and other damages that have been sustained.

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