Longitudinal Study of Headache Trajectories in the Year After Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: Relation to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms

Kathryn Sawyer, Kathleen R. Bell, Dawn M. Ehde, Nancy Temkin, Sureyya Dikmen, Rhonda M. Williams, Tiara Dillworth, Jeanne M. Hoffman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Objective To examine headache trajectories among persons with mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) in the year after injury and the relation of headache trajectory to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at 1 year postinjury. Design Prospective, longitudinal study. Setting Participants were recruited through a university medical center and participated in follow-up assessments by telephone. Participants Prospectively enrolled individuals (N=212) within 1 week of MTBI who were hospitalized for observation or other system injuries. Participants were assessed at baseline and 3, 6, and 12 months postinjury. Interventions Not applicable. Main Outcome Measures Participants rated average headache pain intensity using the 0 to 10 numerical rating scale at each assessment period. The PTSD Checklist-Civilian Version was completed at 12 months postinjury. Results Latent class growth analysis produced a 4-trajectory group model, with groups labeled resolved, worsening, improving, and chronic. Multivariate regression modeling revealed that younger age and premorbid headache correlated with membership in the worse trajectory groups (worsening and chronic; P<.001). Univariate regression revealed a significant association between PTSD and membership in the worse trajectory groups (P<.001). Conclusions Headache is common in the year after MTBI, with younger people, persons who previously had headaches, and persons with PTSD more likely to report chronic or worsening headache. Further research is needed to examine whether PTSD symptoms exacerbate headaches or whether problematic headache symptoms exacerbate PTSD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2000-2006
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of physical medicine and rehabilitation
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2015


  • Headache
  • Rehabilitation
  • Stress disorders
  • post-traumatic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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