September 25, 2023

Medicolegal processes play a crucial role in the trajectory of a patient’s recovery after a mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI). While these processes are designed to ensure patients receive appropriate compensation and care, they can also contribute to the persistence of symptoms in some individuals. The correlation between these processes and symptom persistence is often interpreted as evidence that mTBI is psychological in nature.

The Adversarial Circumstances

One of the primary reasons behind this correlation is the adversarial circumstances that the medicolegal processes often entail. In cases where there’s a fault or blame to be assigned, a natural psychological reaction, such as anger, revenge, or loss aversion, is often triggered. This is especially the case when the injured individual perceives a lack of acknowledgment or empathy from the other party involved.

This is not to say that financial implications are necessarily the driving force behind feigning behaviour, as studies suggest that these emotional responses may serve as stronger motivators. What is notable, however, is that from the outset of the medicolegal process, the injury might not be fully acknowledged by the other party, which can further exacerbate the emotional response and fuel the persistence of symptoms.

The Impact of Independent Assessments

Another significant factor in this process is the role of independent assessments. These are intended to objectively evaluate the extent of the injury and validate the patient’s symptoms. However, if these assessments are undertaken with an underlying assumption that the patient is either not injured at all, not as severely injured as claimed, or even malingering, this can lead to an increased likelihood of feigning behaviour.

Such feigning behaviour is not necessarily an act of deception for personal gain but rather a behavioural expression of the emotional sequelae of mTBI. It can also be viewed as a form of revenge if the injured party feels their trust has been violated, further complicating the psychological landscape around mTBI.


Understanding the psychological nature of mTBI and the potential effects of medicolegal processes is critical in managing the condition effectively. Healthcare and legal professionals must approach these cases with empathy, openness, and an understanding of the complexities involved to prevent unnecessary exacerbation of symptoms and emotional distress. With a more supportive medicolegal process, patients can better focus on their recovery, ultimately improving their long-term health outcomes.

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