The prevalence of symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder among soldiers with amputation of a limb or spinal injury: a report from a rehabilitation centre in Sri Lanka

Psychol Health Med. 2012;17(3):376-81. doi: 10.1080/13548506.2011.608805. Epub 2011 Sep 26.


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has been identified as one of the most commonly occurring mental illnesses in combatants. This study was conducted to determine the prevalence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder among soldiers who had undergone amputation of a lower or an upper limb or sustained a spinal cord injury in the battlefield, and to compare the prevalence among these categories. The research presented seeks to increase the awareness of this condition among those treating war casualties so that appropriate treatment choices could be made to address them. The study was carried out in 2009 at a rehabilitation centre for combatants of war. Data were collected from 96 male army veterans between the ages of 18-49 years using a pre-tested self-administered questionnaire based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the Impact of Event Scale and the PTSD symptom scale. Soldiers with injuries sustained at least four weeks prior to the study were selected by a convenience sampling technique. Soldiers with multiple injuries, head injuries or those diagnosed with psychiatric disorders were excluded. The results revealed that 41.7% of the study population was compatible with the diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Within the three groups, 42.5% of the lower limb amputees, 33.3% of the upper limb amputees and 45.7% of the participants with spinal cord injury had symptoms compatible with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. There was no difference between the prevalence among the different injury categories considered. This study highlights the need to pay more attention in providing psychological care as a part of the overall health management of injured combatants. Early preparation of soldiers for stressors of war and screening for and proper management of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder will improve the overall outcome of rehabilitation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amputation / psychology*
  • Amputation / rehabilitation
  • Amputees / psychology
  • Amputees / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Military Personnel / psychology
  • Military Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Rehabilitation Centers / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / psychology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Sri Lanka / epidemiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Young Adult