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Neuropsychiatric Disorders in Persons With Severe Traumatic Brain Injury: Prevalence, Phenomenology, and Relationship With Demographic, Clinical, and Functional Features

Ciurli, Paola PsyD; Formisano, Rita PhD, MD; Bivona, Umberto PhD, PsyD; Cantagallo, Anna MD; Angelelli, Paola PhD

Section Editor(s): Bruce, Caplan PhD, ABPP; Bogner, Jennifer PhD, ABPP

Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation: March/April 2011 - Volume 26 - Issue 2 - p 116–126
doi: 10.1097/HTR.0b013e3181dedd0e
Focus on Clinical Research and Practice, Part 1

Objective: To characterize neuropsychiatric symptoms in a large group of individuals with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) and to correlate these symptoms with demographic, clinical, and functional features.

Methods: The Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI), a frequently used scale to assess behavioral, emotional, and motivational disorders in persons with neurological diseases, was administered to a sample of 120 persons with severe TBI. Controls were 77 healthy subjects.

Results: A wide range of neuropsychiatric symptoms was found in the population with severe TBI: apathy (42%), irritability (37%), dysphoria/depressed mood (29%), disinhibition (28%), eating disturbances (27%), and agitation (24%). A clear relationship was also found with other demographic and clinical variables.

Conclusion: Neuropsychiatric disorders constitute an important part of the comorbidity in populations with severe TBI. Our study emphasizes the importance of integrating an overall assessment of cognitive disturbances with a specific neuropsychiatric evaluation to improve clinical understanding and treatment of persons with TBI.

IRCCS Santa Lucia Foundation, Rome (Drs Ciurli, Formisano, and Bivona); Department of Neuroscience/Rehabilitation, Hospital and University of Ferrara, Ferrara (Dr Cantagallo); and Department of Psychology, University of Bari, Bari (Dr Angelelli), Italy.

Corresponding Author: Paola Ciurli, PsyD, IRCCS Santa Lucia Hospital, via. Ardeatina 306, Rome, Italy (

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.