Symptoms associated with vestibular impairment in veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder
Haber, Yaa O.
Chandler, Helena K.
Serrador, Jorge M.
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Haber, Yaa O. Chandler, Helena K.; Serrador, Jorge M. (2016). Symptoms associated with vestibular impairment in veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder. PLOS ONE 11 (12),
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a chronic and disabling, anxiety disorder resulting from exposure to life threatening events such as a serious accident, abuse or combat (DSM IV definition). Among veterans with PTSD, a common complaint is dizziness, disorientation and/or postural imbalance in environments such as grocery stores and shopping malls. The etiology of these symptoms in PTSD is poorly understood and some attribute them to anxiety or traumatic brain injury. There is a possibility that an impaired vestibular system may contribute to these symptoms since, symptoms of an impaired vestibular system include dizziness, disorientation and postural imbalance. To our knowledge, this is the first report to describe the nature of vestibular related symptoms in veterans with and without PTSD. We measured PTSD symptoms using the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist (PCL-C) and compared it to responses on vestibular function scales including the Dizziness Handicap Inventory (DHI), the Vertigo Symptom Scale Short Form (VSS-SF), the Chambless Mobility Inventory (CMI), and the Neurobehavioral Scale Inventory (NSI) in order to identify vestibular-related symptoms. Our findings indicate that veterans with worse PTSD symptoms report increased vestibular related symptoms. Additionally veterans with PTSD reported 3 times more dizziness related handicap than veterans without PTSD. Veterans with increased avoidance reported more vertigo and dizziness related handicap than those with PTSD and reduced avoidance. We describe possible contributing factors to increased reports of vestibular symptoms in PTSD, namely, anxiety, a vestibular component as well as an interactive effect of anxiety and vestibular impairment. We also present some preliminary analyses regarding the contribution of TBI. This data suggests possible evidence for vestibular symptom reporting in veterans with PTSD, which may be explained by possible underlying vestibular impairment, worthy of further exploration.