TBI May Be Misdiagnosed as PTSD

Following a traumatic accident or incident, victims may suffer a variety of physical and mental injuries. Two common injuries resulting from auto collisions falls, explosions, or similarly severe accidents are traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These conditions are each very serious in their own right and can have significant adverse effects on victims.

Differences between TBI and PTSD

Traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder are two different conditions caused by different aspects of an accident. A TBI is damage to the brain caused by the brain tissue physically hitting against the inside of the skull. This can occur because of direct force trauma to the head or because of the brain jostling around due to an explosion or a sudden jolt, as is common in a car accident. On the other hand, PTSD is not physical damage to the brain, but an anxiety-related disorder that commonly develops after a person experiences a traumatic event that either caused or threatened serious personal injury. As you can see, one of these is a physical injury and the other is a mental injury and, therefore, the treatment for each would be quite different.

The similarity in symptoms

Research demonstrates that the symptoms of TBI and PTSD can be so similar that they are often mistaken for one another. For example, both of the conditions have the potential to cause the following effects on a victim:

  • Not having realistic or proper awareness of their surroundings
  • Not having the capability to feel or demonstrate appropriate emotions
  • Memory issues
  • Withdrawal from social situations
  • Unexplained aggression or angry outbursts
  • Lack of proper judgment leading to potentially reckless or destructive actions

Based on the above shared symptoms, it is not difficult to see why these two conditions may be confused. For this reason, it is extremely important for medical professionals to properly and thoroughly test for a traumatic brain injury following any type of traumatic event that involved the head. If an emergency room doctor or specialist fails to diagnose the TBI, the victim may be later diagnosed with PTSD if symptoms begin to fully arise.

Misdiagnosis can cause severe medical issues

Traumatic brain injury often requires a significant amount of specialized treatment for a victim to recover. If a TBI is misdiagnosed, it can not only result in long-lasting and increased physical and cognitive challenges, but can also lead to many complications and the development of subsequent medical conditions. For example, some TBI victims experience brain swelling or bleeding that must be controlled to avoid severe and permanent damage or even death. Additionally, if a person receives another head trauma before a prior brain injury is properly treated and fully healed, the victims can experience severe health issues that may be fatal. 

Conversely, if a person is diagnosed with TBI and later develops PTSD, the symptoms may be attributed solely to the brain injury and, therefore, the patient may not be recommended a psychological evaluation. If PTSD is not properly treated, a victim may experience chronic depression and anxiety that may even lead to suicidal thoughts and actions. For these reasons, it is imperative that doctors recognize the potential for both conditions in the same patient following a traumatic event.

Contact a Tamba Bay brain injury lawyer for a free consultation today

Any negligent party that caused your traumatic brain injury should be held accountable for their actions and liable for all of your financial and noneconomic losses related to your injury. In addition, if your doctor failed to accurately diagnose your brain injury, you may be entitled to compensation for medical malpractice, as well. In such a situation, you need a brain injury attorney on your side who is familiar with accident cases, medical malpractice laws, and any other relevant legal knowledge to assist you with all of your legal issues at once. At the Dolman Law Group, our team of attorneys has the knowledge and experienced necessary to assist with a wide range of injury matters, so please call our office in Florida today at 727-451-6900 to discuss your case at no cost.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756



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