Brain injuries are known to cause mental and personality changes in victims, some of which may be permanent or difficult to treat. Now, new research is starting to clarify the differences between different types of damage suffered after physical injury.
The amygdala, a bean-shaped piece of grey matter associated with emotional control, is larger in brains that exhibit post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI). This discovery may change how we view the physical and psychological effects of a brain injury.
“It’s really interesting why we might see these results,” said Douglas Chang, MD, PhD, professor and chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Service at UC San Diego Health in California. His paper published the recent discovery, specifically amygdalas 6 percent larger in PTSD patients versus those who did not exhibit PTSD after brain injury.
“Are there susceptible individuals prone to PTSD . . . so that they have a brain primed to respond to fear and startle reflexes in an exaggerated fashion? Or are these physical changes a result . . . of a brain reaction to fear conditions resulting in growth of the neural networks of the amygdala fear processing organ?”
There is no question among doctors and other specialists that a TBI causes physical changes to the organ, which often result in emotional and behavioral changes and preferences. The exact nature of these changes, however, is less well understood or agreed upon.
Victims of brain injury have rights and protections under California law that allow them to seek reimbursement for medical expenses, as well as compensation for pain and suffering following a brain injury. Legal representation is available to help victims and their families assess their options and ease recovery.
Source: MedScape, “PTSD May Be Physical, Not Just Psychological,” Megan Brooks, July 21, 2017