Characterization of headache after traumatic brain injury

Sylvia Lucas, Jeanne M. Hoffman, Kathleen R. Bell, William Walker, Sureyya Dikmen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


Background: Headache is a common and persistent symptom following traumatic brain injury (TBI). Headaches following TBI are defined primarily by their temporal association to injury, but have no defining clinical features. To provide a framework for treatment, primary headache symptoms were used to characterize headache.Methods: Three hundred and seventy-eight participants were prospectively enrolled during acute in-patient rehabilitation for TBI. Headaches were classified into migraine/probable migraine, tension-type, or cervicogenic headache at baseline and 3, 6, and 12 months following TBI.Results: Migraine was the most frequent headache type occurring in up to 38% of participants who reported headaches. Probable migraine occurred in up to 25%, tension-type headache in up to 21%, then cervicogenic headache in up to 10%. Females were more likely to have endorsed pre-injury migraine than males, and had migraine or probable migraine at all time points after injury. Those classified with migraine were more likely to have frequent headaches. Conclusions: Our data show that most headache after TBI may be classified using primary headache criteria. Migraine/probable migraine described the majority of headache after TBI across one year post-injury. Using symptom-based criteria for headache following TBI can serve as a framework from which to provide evidence-based treatment for these frequent, severe, and persistent headaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)600-606
Number of pages7
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • Headache
  • PTH
  • TBI
  • cervicogenic headache
  • migraine
  • post-traumatic headache
  • probable migraine
  • secondary headaches
  • tension-type headache
  • traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Characterization of headache after traumatic brain injury'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this