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Post-Traumatic Stress Common After Personal Injury, Study Finds

A new study by the University of Washington, the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, and the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has found that traumatic personal injuries in many leads to post-traumatic stress disorder or depression. Researchers found that one year after a serious injury such as a spinal cord injury, brain injury or other life-altering injury, a high percentage of patients were diagnosed to have post-traumatic stress disorder or depression.

Specifically, the study found that of 2707 patients examined after a serious injury,
20.7% were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and 6.6% had depression a full year after their injury. As a result of these diagnoses, researchers found that patients were not adjusting to regular life after the injury.

Patients who suffered from either depression or post-traumatic stress disorder a year after their injury were three times less likely to be working than patients who had similar injuries but no depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. Patients suffering from both post-traumatic stress disorder and depression a year after their injuries were up to six times less likely to have resumed work and other normal activities.

Researchers say that the study highlights the need for long-term follow-up with patients after a serious injury. The study highlighted that even in cases where a patient is recovering, mental health still needs to be considered. Acute care hospitals and treatment facilities, say researchers, need to screen patients who have been injured for signs of mental health issues and symptoms of depression or other problems.

The American College of Surgeons asks all level I trauma centers to provide alcohol screening on-site as well as some form of intervention services before trauma center accreditation is granted. The study suggests that these facilities may wish to put a greater emphasis on screening and intervention in the treatment of patients.