Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan


  • Paul NewmanEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_2113


Posttraumatic agitation


Agitation is an excess of one or more behaviors that occur during the course of delirium when cognition is impaired. The behaviors most often in excess during agitation include aggression, akathisia, disinhibition, and/or emotional lability. Specific examples of agitated behavior may include pacing, hand wringing, pulling at tubes or restraints, inappropriate verbalizations, excessive crying or laughter, etc.

Agitation is often conceptualized to result from an inability to cope with overstimulation. Stimulation may be internal (e.g., pain or hallucinations) or external (e.g., noise, light, or conversation). One’s ability to cope with stimulation may be viewed as a threshold. Adverse changes to the brain’s typical functioning have the potential to lower this threshold. Thus, individuals with traumatic brain injury or dementia may become agitated at lower levels of stimulation than noninjured individuals.

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References and Readings

  1. Corrigan, J. D. (1989). Development of a scale for assessment of agitation following traumatic brain injury. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 69, 261–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Sandel, M. E., & Bysiw, W. J. (1996). The agitated brain injured patient. Part 1: Definitions, differential diagnosis, and assessment. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 77, 617–623.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Smith, M., Gardner, L. A., Hall, G. R., & Buckwalter, K. C. (2004). History, development, and future of the progressively lowered stress threshold: A conceptual model for dementia care. Journal of the American Geriatric Society, 52, 1755–1760.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical Psychology and NeuropsychologyDrake CenterCincinnatiUSA