The lecture was delivered by Dr Julius Bourke, a consultant neuropsychiatrist, practising at the Nightingale Hospital and Re:Cognition Health, and was entitled ‘Neurobiological understanding of the polytrauma triad: traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and pain’.
Dr Bourke is an expert in trauma-related disorders including functional somatic and neurological syndromes, such as chronic fatigue and chronic pain syndromes, which lie at the interface between general medicine, neurology and psychiatry.
Dr Bourke explained that the development of chronic pain states and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was very common following traumatic brain injury (TBI) and their presence together is sometimes termed ‘the polytrauma triad’. The reason for this is complex and rests in the neurobiology of trauma-associated injury, rather than psychological responses alone.
In relation to PTSD, Dr Bourke provided an overview of the neurobiology, genetics and epigenetics. Dr Bourke then explored chronic pain and its interaction with PTSD. On a neural level, they overlap significantly and influence each other. They are linked in their neuroanatomy and neurochemistry, genetics and epigenetics. They commonly arise together, influence each other and are risk factors for one another. By understanding this, we will have a better understanding of how to treat PTSD and chronic pain whilst furthering the potential to prevent their occurrence.