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Journal Article


Ragsdale KA, Gramlich MA, Beidel DC, Neer SM, Kitsmiller EG, Morrison KI. Behav. Ther. 2018; 49(4): 617-630.


University of Central Florida.


(Copyright © 2018, Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Publisher Elsevier Publishing)






Research indicates that exposure therapy is efficacious for combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) comorbid with traumatic brain injury (TBI) as is shown by reduced PTSD treatment outcome scores. What is unknown, however, is whether the process of fear extinction is attenuated in veterans with TBI history. Increased PTSD symptomatology and possible cognitive deficits associated with TBI sequelae may indicate additional or longer exposure sessions to achieve habituation and extinction comparable to individuals without TBI history. As such, a more extensive course of treatment may be necessary to achieve comparable PTSD treatment outcome scores for individuals with TBI history. Using a sample of veterans with combat-related PTSD, some of whom were comorbid for TBI, this study compared process variables considered relevant to successful treatment outcome in exposure therapy. Individuals with and without TBI demonstrated similar rates of fear activation, length and number of exposure sessions, within-session habituation, between-session habituation, and extinction rate; results remained consistent when controlling for differential PTSD symptomatology. Furthermore, results indicated that self-perception of executive dysfunction did not impact the exposure process.

RESULTS suggest that individuals with PTSD and TBI history engage successfully and no differently in the exposure therapy process as compared to individuals with PTSD alone.

FINDINGS further support exposure therapy as a first-line treatment for combat-related PTSD regardless of TBI history.

Copyright © 2017. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Language: en


exposure therapy; extinction; habituation; posttraumatic stress disorder; traumatic brain injury


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