Objective: Persistent postconcussive symptoms (PPCS) are a set of physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral symptoms that often follow mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Some of these symptoms also occur in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The current study examined the unique contribution of mTBI and PTSD to PPCS. The roles of neurocognitive and motivational factors were also addressed. Method: Sixty one children and adolescents (ages 6-18), at least 3 months post motor vehicle accident (MVA), participated in the study. All participants were diagnosed with PTSD symptoms. Thirty three participants met mTBI criteria, and 28 did not. Standard instruments for assessment included a semistructured clinical interview, self-report questionnaires, and a neuropsychological evaluation. Results: No differences were found between the mTBI and non-TBI groups on any of the emotional or neurocognitive measures, including PPCS symptoms. Multiple regression analyses revealed that emotional status, such as state anxiety and depression, were the best predictors of PPCS. Furthermore, hierarchical regression analyses revealed a double mediation model, in which suboptimal effort mediated the relationship between neurocognitive performance and PPCS, and emotional status mediated the relationship between suboptimal effort and PPCS. Conclusion: These findings underscore the importance of emotional status in the diagnosis of PPCS among children who suffer from PTSD. It is possible that PPCS reflect a more general expression of accident-related emotional distress, rather than being a direct result of the injury.
- Mild traumatic brain injury
- Posttraumatic stress disorder