Brain Scans Can Tell Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury Apart According to New Research by Amen Clinics

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Benefits will come from improved diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders in what is believed to be the largest brain imaging study ever published.

Brain Scans Can Tell Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury Apart According to New Research by Amen Clinics

Brain Scans Can Tell Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury Apart According to New Research by Amen Clinics

"This study can help millions of people who suffer with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury or both. Getting the right diagnosis is critical to getting the right help" - Daniel Amen, MD.

It is now possible to separate two common disorders: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) using single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) according to researchers from Amen Clinics, UCLA, Thomas Jefferson University, and University of British Columbia. The study, which examined over 20,000 brain scans and is believed to be the largest brain imaging study ever, will be published on July 1, 2015 in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

Daniel Amen, MD, is a board certified psychiatrist, founder of Amen Clinics, and is the lead author on the study. “This study can help millions of people who suffer with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury or both. Getting the right diagnosis is critical to getting the right help. The wrong diagnosis leads to the wrong treatment and can hurt patients. Having a tool to better understand and separate them will help eliminate the guesswork that can lead clinicians down ineffective treatment paths,” according to Dr. Amen.

Over 7.7 million people suffer from PTSD at any given point in time and there are over 2 million new brain injuries every year in the U.S. Military veterans are especially vulnerable, with 400,000 of them suffering from PTSD, TBI, or both. Additional sources cited in the paper note the annual cost of PTSD alone is at least 4 billion dollars per year.

With the devastating consequences these diseases put on patients and their families, Dr. Amen notes that much more work remains to be done. “The key contribution of this paper is a reliable biomarker to aid in proper diagnosis. Future work will focus on adapting imaging to hone in on biomarkers that predict and improve patient outcomes.”

Researchers use computer-based methods to measure blood flow and activity in 128 different brain regions while study subjects are at rest and while doing a mental task. The study then uses a mathematical model to determine if the scans could tell apart TBI from PTSD from persons with both. This model is then applied to separate groups with and without other mental health conditions with predictive sensitivity of SPECT in distinguishing PTSD from TBI of 80-100%.

SPECT can tell TBI and PTSD apart because these disorders affect the brain in different ways. TBI involves damage to the brain from direct blows or blast injuries, leading to reduced brain activity and blood flow. PTSD involves hyperactive reactions to different stimuli leading to brain scan patterns where blood flow is abnormally higher compared to TBI or normal health.

The study will be published in PLOS ONE, one of the largest publishers of research from all areas of science. It is an open-access publisher whose goal is to make scientific and medical literature available to the public. To date, PLOS ONE has published research conducted by over 100,000 authors. An average of 1 million articles are downloaded from the PLOS ONE website every month.

Dr. Amen on the study and its findings in a video on his website.

Amen Clinics was founded in 1989 by Daniel Amen, MD with locations in Costa Mesa and San Francisco, Calif., Bellevue, Wash., Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and New York City. Dr. Amen is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and is the author of over 60 professional scientific articles and 10 New York Times bestselling books.

For more information visit amenclinics.com. Follow Amen Clinics on Social Media: Facebook at AmenClinic; Twitter @amenclinics; YouTube at AmenClinic.

For media inquiries and interviews please contact Kelly Bennett of Bennett Productions Unlimited, PR/Marketing/Branding Kelly(at)BPUnlimited(dot)com or (949) 463-6383.
Kelly Bennett, President
Bennett Productions Unlimited
(949) 463-6383
Kelly(at)BPUnlimited(dot)com
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