Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Given that motor vehicle collisions can be a very traumatic experience, post-traumatic stress disorder will often be present in a person who has been involved in a serious motor vehicle accident. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) may occur immediately following the collision or it may have a delayed onset. Furthermore, the motor vehicle accident may trigger the emergence of symptoms related to an earlier traumatic experience that the injured person had previously suppressed.

Diagnosing PTSD in a person who has been involved in a collision will be further complicated if the person has also sustained a brain injury. Many symptoms of PTSD are similar to those of a brain injury, including irritability, fatigue, concentration difficulty, cognitive problems and sleep disturbances. To further complicate matters, these symptoms can also indicate the presence of other disorders, such as depression, which is commonly experienced by victims of motor vehicle collisions.

Studies have suggested that the development of PTSD is generally more common in those who have sustained mild traumatic brain injuries compared to those who have sustained a more severe traumatic brain injury. This is arguably because those with a mild traumatic brain injury will generally have memories of the collision whereas a person who has sustained a severe brain injury will likely have experienced an extended period of unconsciousness and have no memory of the accident.

The relationship between PTSD and brain injuries is very complicated and the presence of both may not be easily recognized. However, they frequently co-exist. If you are suffering from PTSD and/or a brain injury it is important to seek out appropriate medical and psychological assistance.

About the Authors

A born-and-raised Barrie resident, Karen knows and loves her community. She is proud to be a partner in one of Canada’s most successful personal injury law firms—right in her own backyard. Karen joined Oatley Vigmond in 2013 as an associate lawyer. She holds a BA from Queen’s University and her Juris Doctor from Bond University in Australia. Prior to being called to the Bar in January 2013, Karen articled at a well-known personal injury law firm in Toronto.

To learn more about Karen, please click here.