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mTBI Effects on Emotion Symptoms, Neurocognitive Performance, and Functional Impairment: A Longitudinal Study of Deployed and Non-Deployed Army Soldiers

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Annual rept. 1 Jun 2008-31 Aug 2009

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This prospectivelongitudinal study examined the effects of Operation Iraqi Freedom-related emotional symptoms and mTBI exposure on post-deployment function. Both performance-based and self-report outcome measures were collected. Regression analytic strategies examined post-OIF function on objective neurocognitive measures and self-reported cognitive and physical problems, measuring the predictive contribution of self-report of mild TBI self-report regarding emotional function immediately post-deployment e.g., symptoms of PTSD and depression and self-report of combat exposure. A survey of predeployment factors failed to uncover any reliable predictors of deployment-related mild TBI beyond previous occurrence of related TBI. Regression analyses utilizing self-report of PTSD indicate that symptoms of deployment-related emotional distress are significantly related to postdeployment cognitive outcomes. The existence of an analogous depression-cognitive outcome suggests that the impact of deployment is not related strictly to PTSD and instead reflects more global levels of emotional distress. Mild traumatic brain injury mTBI was not a significant predictor of cognitive outcome in this sample, despite use of liberal exploratory techniques designed to maximize the likelihood of uncovering meaningful mTBI-cognition effects. However, a significant mTBIphysical complaints relationship suggests that mTBI may be exerting a deleterious effect on the readjustment of deployed troops. This relationship is unlikely to be due solely to demand characteristics, since no relationship was found between mTBI and self-report of cognitive complaints. The congruence between cognitive objective performance and cognitive self-report data in this sample instead is consistent with the possibility that simple self-report of mTBI is tapping a distress factor with unclear consequences. Improved reliability of mTBI measures would assist in further delineating this potential relationship.

Subject Categories:

  • Psychology
  • Medicine and Medical Research
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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