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Postdeployment Symptom Changes and Traumatic Brain Injury and/or Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Men
NAVAL HEALTH RESEARCH CENTER SAN DIEGO CA
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In Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, blast-related injuries associated with combat are frequent and result in traumatic brain injuries TBIs that may be difficult to distinguish from psychological problems. Using data from the Post-Deployment Health Assessment and Reassessment, 12,046 U.S. Navy sailors and Marines with combat-related information from 2008-2009 were identified. A series of symptoms used to identify blast-related TBI and posttraumatic stress disorder PTSD immediately after deployment were compared with the symptoms present several months later. Factor analysis identified four symptom clusters mental health, musculoskeletal, systemic headaches, feeling light-headed, dimming of vision, and auditory ringing in ears. After approximately 6 months, those who screened positive for PTSD and TBI formed a unique group with increased symptom reporting in most categories except for musculoskeletal. Our study supports others that have found subjects with blast-related injuries may experience the development or worsening of symptoms during the months following deployment. Providers should consider the possibility of comorbidity and be prepared to treat both conditions.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE