Vancouver, BC – Lions Gate Hospital physician Dr. Rob Tarzwell and a team of researchers have been recognized by Discover Magazine for their study about diagnoses for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
“We were pleased simply to be noticed by Discover, and to be considered one of the 20 most important science stories of the year is really an almost indescribable thrill and certainly a career highlight,” says Dr. Tarzwell, a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UBC and a specialist in both psychiatry and nuclear medicine.
The study, “Functional Neuroimaging Distinguishes Posttraumatic Stress Disorder from Traumatic Brain Injury in Focused and Large Community Datasets,” demonstrates how brain perfusion single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) images accurately distinguish PTSD from TBI when compared against healthy controls and also against cohorts with a high burden of psychiatric disease.
While PTSD and TBI patients have overlapping symptoms—amnesia, insomnia, irritability, reduced frustration tolerance, and low mood and energy—treatments are very different. With the ability to distinguish between the two disorders, clinicians will now be able to tailor treatment to the individual for better health outcomes. The research is particularly useful for combat veterans, who frequently suffer from both PTSD and TBI.
“In situations where PTSD and TBI coexist, we want to avoid treatments for one condition which could slow down recovery of the other condition,” Dr. Tarzwell explains. “For instance, it is very common to use sedatives in PTSD. These are very unhelpful in TBI, because they only exacerbate the main problem: under activity in the central nervous system. However, we also know from survey data that possibly as many as two thirds of individuals with PTSD and TBI do receive sedative medication as part of their treatment.”
The study, which is the largest functional neuroimaging study in history, with 21,143 subjects, was selected as #19 by Discover magazine in their annual Top 100 Stories for 2015. Dr. Tarzwell was invited by U.S. researchers from UCLA and Amen Clinics International to co-author the study, and is now working on a study to look for difference between unipolar and bipolar depression, using data from Lions Gate Hospital.
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