In the weeks following a severe traumatic brain injury, family members of the patient will often develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. This stress tends to be higher in women, and when initial Glasgow Coma Scale scores are very low.
In cases of severe traumatic brain injury, family members are sometimes called upon to make treatment or end-of-life decisions. But when family members are showing signs of post-traumatic stress, the burden of these decisions may be too difficult to handle. Furthermore, high levels of stress at the onset of the injury may negatively impact a family member's long-term ability to adjust to change, or adequately care for the patient.
A recent study of post-traumatic stress after severe traumatic brain injury found that an assessment tool for family members, The Impact of Event Scale, can help to determine family members who are in need of more intense support.
Pielmaier L, Walder B, Rebetez MML, & Maercker A. Post-traumatic stress symptoms in relatives in the first weeks after severe traumatic brain injury. Brain Injury. (March 2011).