Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, such as combat, an accident, a disaster, or an assault. PTSD can be a disabling mental health condition for these individuals. Research has shown it can make it difficult to find and maintain a job, interact with family and friends, and participate in the community. PTSD is often associated with military veterans, but anyone who experiences a traumatic event could be at risk of developing the condition. For example, people with acquired disabilities such as spinal cord injury or burn injuries may experience PTSD in connection with their injuries. Some researchers are concerned that the current coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) may lead to an increase in PTSD among both frontline healthcare workers and those who survive the virus.
Resources are available from the NIDILRR grantee community and from national and local agencies and organizations to help people with PTSD find treatment and support.
PTSD and Traumatic Injuries
People with traumatic injuries such as spinal cord injury (SCI), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and burn injury can experience PTSD as a result of their injuries. Learn more about:
- PTSD after burn injury from the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center
- Chronic pain and PTSD and emotional changes after TBI from the Northwest TBI Model System Center
- Who is most likely to develop PTSD after SCI? from our Research In Focus series.
Tech Solutions for PTSD
Three apps supported by the App Factory at the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Community Living, Health, and Function (LiveWell RERC) may offer help in managing PTSD symptoms:
- BreatheWell Wear app for Android Wear smartwatches is designed to assist people with mild TBI and PTSD in managing stress through diaphragmatic breathing.
- SwapMyMood is a mobile app developed for the iOS operating system. It is designed to assist people with brain injury to engage in problem solving and emotion regulation.
- SmartHome Stress Assist (under development) is a system that leverages the Amazon Echo and commodity smart home technologies to assist military service members with traumatic brain injury and PTSD in managing the onset of post-traumatic stress episodes.
The National PTSD Center at the Department of Veterans Affairs has many apps and tools that provide self-help, education, and support following treatment.
- Mobile apps for self-help, treatment companions, and related issues such as parenting and smoking cessation.
- A Treatment Decision Aid that can be used by anyone to learn about PTSD, compare effective treatment options, and take action to start treatment. Resources specific to military personnel are clearly indicated.
PTSD and COVID-19
As noted above, some researchers are concerned about the impact of ongoing stress on healthcare workers on the frontline of the pandemic, as well as the mental health of those who survive the virus. The National Center for PTSD has a collection of information and resources to support self-care, the work of providers, and community efforts. Resources for Everyone includes the COVID Coach mobile app, designed to help build resilience, manage stress, and increase well-being with tools to stay connected, work from home, navigate parenting or caregiving, and stay healthy. The collection has a long list of Resources for Healthcare Workers and Responders and for Employers and Community Leaders.
These are just a few examples of resources available to help people with PTSD manage stress, find support, and find treatment during this very difficult time. Learn more about resources, tools, and research on managing stress, staying productive, and staying healthy in our collection of COVID-19 Resources from the NIDILRR Grantee Community.
Explore More Research
NARIC’s REHABDATA database lists more than 1,300 publications on PTSD, including peer reviewed articles, books, and consumer materials. Try one of these targeted searches:
- NIDILRR-funded research in PTSD
- PTSD and military/veterans
- PTSD and TBI
- PTSD and SCI
- PTSD and women with disabilities
- PTSD and employment
If you need assistance in finding treatment and support in your community, contact your community Information and Referral center or the National Helpline from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).