Network Analysis Applied to Post-concussion Symptoms in Two Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Samples
Objective: A latent disease explanation cannot exclusively explain post-concussion symptoms after mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Network analysis offers an alternative form of explanation for relationships between symptoms. The study aimed to apply network analysis to post-concussion symptoms in two different mTBI cohorts; an acute treatment-seeking sample and a sample 10 years post-mTBI.
Method: The treatment-seeking sample (n = 258) were on average 6 weeks post-injury; the 10 year post mTBI sample (n = 193) was derived from a population-based incidence and outcomes study (BIONIC). Network analysis was completed on post-concussion symptoms measured using the Rivermead Post-Concussion Questionnaire.
Results: In the treatment-seeking sample, frustration, blurred vision, and concentration difficulties were central to the network. These symptoms remained central in the 10 year post mTBI sample. A Network Comparison Test revealed evidence of a difference in network structure across the two samples (p = 0.045). However, the only symptoms that showed significant differences in strength centrality across samples were irritability and restlessness.
Conclusion: The current findings suggest that frustration, blurred vision and concentration difficulties may have an influential role in the experience and maintenance of post-concussion symptoms. The impact of these symptoms may remain stable over time. Targeting and prioritising the management of these symptoms may be beneficial for mTBI rehabilitation.