Research Reports - Emotional reserve and prolonged post-concussive symptoms and disability

Christian Oldenburg1, Anders Lundin2, Gunnar Edman3, Catharina Nygren Deboussard1, Aniko Bartfai1

BMJ Open 2018;8:e020884. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-020884

Objective Prolonged post-concussive symptoms (PCS) affect a significant minority of patients withmild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). The aetiology is multifactorial depending on preinjury as well as peri-injury and postinjury factors. In this study, we examine outcome from an emotional reserve perspective.

Design Prospective cohort study.

Setting Patients were recruited from three emergency departments in major university hospitals in Stockholm, Sweden. Follow-up data were collected in an outpatient setting at one of the recruiting hospitals.

Participants 122 patients with a history of blunt head trauma (aged 15–65 years; admitted for mTBI within 24 hours after trauma (Glasgow Coma Scale score of 14–15, loss of consciousness <30 min and/or post-traumatic amnesia <24 hours). Exclusion criteria were other significant physical injury and other major neurological disorder, including previous significant head injury.

Procedure Recruitment in three emergency departments. Initial assessments were made within 1 week after the injury. Patients were mailed the follow-up questionnaires 1 year postinjury.

Outcome measures A psychiatric assessment was performed at 1 week post injury. The participants also completed a personality inventory, measures of psychological resilience, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic symptoms. One-year outcome was measured by the Rivermead Post Concussion Symptoms and the Rivermead Head Injury Follow-Up questionnaires.

Results The psychiatric assessment revealed more symptoms of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic symptoms in the acute stage for patients who later developed PCS.

After 1 year, 94 participants were still in the programme (male/female 57/37) and 12% matched the extended criteria for PCS (≥3 symptoms and ≥2 disabilities). PCS patients reported more preinjury and concurrent psychiatric problems, lower level of functioning before the injury and experienced more stress. They showed higher somatic trait anxiety, embitterment, mistrust and lower level of psychological resilience than recovered participants.

Conclusion Intrapersonal emotional reserve shape the emergence and persistence of PCS after mTBI.

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