JOURNAL ARTICLE

Impact of the "polytrauma clinical triad" on sleep disturbance in a department of veterans affairs outpatient rehabilitation setting

Henry L Lew, Terri K Pogoda, Pei-Te Hsu, Sara Cohen, Melissa M Amick, Errol Baker, Mark Meterko, Rodney D Vanderploeg
American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation 2010, 89 (6): 437-45
20489391

OBJECTIVE: There is a high prevalence of Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans returning with the "polytrauma clinical triad" of pain, posttraumatic stress disorder, and traumatic brain injury. This study examined the effect of the polytrauma clinical triad on sleep disturbance, defined as difficulty falling or staying asleep, a common problem in Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans.

DESIGN: A chart review was conducted for 200 Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans evaluated at a polytrauma outpatient clinic. Data that were abstracted included a sleep disturbance severity index, diagnoses of posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, and reported problems of pain.

RESULTS: Sleep disturbance was highly prevalent (93.5%) in this sample, in which the majority of traumatic brain injury diagnoses were mild. In the multiple regression analysis, posttraumatic stress disorder, pain, the interaction of traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress disorder, and the interaction of posttraumatic stress disorder and pain significantly accounted for sleep disturbance. As a separate independent variable, traumatic brain injury was not associated with sleep disturbance.

CONCLUSIONS: Our preliminary results showed that posttraumatic stress disorder and pain significantly contributed to sleep disturbance. When traumatic brain injury or pain coexisted with posttraumatic stress disorder, sleep problems worsened. In this clinical population, where the majority of traumatic brain injury diagnoses tend to be in the mild category, traumatic brain injury alone did not predict sleep disturbance. Through increased awareness of pain, posttraumatic stress disorder, and traumatic brain injury, clinicians can work collaboratively to maximize rehabilitation outcomes.

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