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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


eISSN: 1643-3750

Post-traumatic stress disorder in Polish stroke patients who survived Nazi concentration camps.

Maria Pąchalska, Bożena Grochmal-Bach, Bruce Duncan MacQueen, Bogusław Frańczuk

Med Sci Monit 2006; 12(4): CR137-149

ID: 448897

Available online:

Published: 2006-04-10

Background: Many persons who survived Nazi concentration camps are nowin advanced age, so that rehabilitation centers in Poland are seeing increasing numbers of such patients,especially after strokes. In many cases, the process of rehabilitation is severely hampered by Post-TraumaticStress Disorder (PTSD), while the neuropsychological consequences of the stroke itself often evoke traumaticmemories and simultaneously disorganize or destroy the patient's previous coping mechanisms. The presentstudy describes the program developed by the authors for concentration camp survivors in post-strokerehabilitation, including the use of art therapy and specially prepared films to help the patients copewith PTSD. Material/Methods: The experimental group (KL) consisted of 8 such patients (4 men, 4 women,average age 79.1+/-4.28) with mild post-stroke aphasia who went through the PTSD program, while the comparisongroup (C) included 8 post-stroke patients, matched for age and gender, who were not concentration campsurvivors and showed no premorbid symptoms of PTSD. All subjects were tested at baseline and again 3months later, using structured interview and observation, self-rating scales for three basic negativeemotions (anger, anxiety and sadness) and the Frustration and Aggression Test for the Disabled. Results:The results showed significant differences between the groups at baseline, while at follow-up the differencesbetween groups had changed in both extent and distribution. Conclusions: Qualitative analysis of theresults allows for some important observations about the etiology and course of PTSD in these persons.

Keywords: Aged, 80 and over, Art Therapy, Case-Control Studies, Concentration Camps - history, History, 21st Century, National Socialism, Poland, Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic - rehabilitation, Stroke - complications