The polytrauma clinical triad (PCT) is a complex disorder composed of three comorbid diagnoses of chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and postconcussion syndrome (PCS). PCT has been documented in veterans returning from deployment, but this is the first report on PCT prevalence in nonmilitary personnel after a motor vehicle collision (MVC).
Data were drawn from routine intake assessments completed by 71 patients referred to a community-based clinic for chronic pain management. All patients completed the post-traumatic stress disorder checklist for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (PCL-5), and Rivermead Post-Concussion Symptoms Questionnaire (RPQ) during a standardized intake assessment. An additional modified RPQ score was derived to address previously reported symptom overlap between PCS and chronic pain.
Standard and modified RPQ scores yielded PCS prevalence rates of 100% and 54.9% in our sample, respectively. Results suggest that a modified RPQ score, limited to visual and vestibular symptoms, may be more useful PCS screening criteria in patients with chronic pain. PTSD screening criteria on the PCL-5 were met by 85.9% of the patients. More than half of the patients referred for chronic pain after MVC met criteria for PCT (52.1%). Patients who met PCT criteria reported worse headache, overall pain, and sleep quality outcomes.