Concussion May Have Little Long-Term Effect on Soldiers

After adjustment for PTSD, concussion has little impact on psychosocial outcomes

TUESDAY, Jan. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Although posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) appears to be strongly related to psychosocial outcomes and postconcussive symptoms in soldiers a year after they return from Iraq, concussion/mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) seems to have little impact on these outcomes after PTSD is accounted for, according to research published in the January issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Melissa A. Polusny, Ph.D., of the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis, and colleagues surveyed 953 U.S. National Guard soldiers in Iraq one month before they returned home and one year later to assess the extent to which concussion/MTBI sustained in Iraq and PTSD predicted long-term psychosocial outcomes.

The rate of self-reported concussion/MTBI increased from 9.2 to 22 percent between the two surveys. The researchers found that those with a history of concussion/MTBI were more likely to report postconcussive symptoms and worse psychosocial outcomes after deployment, but the association disappeared after adjusting for PTSD symptoms, which, if reported in the first survey, predicted long-term outcomes more strongly than concussion/MTBI history.

"Although combat-related PTSD was strongly associated with postconcussive symptoms and psychosocial outcomes one year after soldiers returned from Iraq, there was little evidence of a long-term negative impact of concussion/MTBI history on these outcomes after accounting for PTSD. These findings and the two-fold increase in reports of deployment-related concussion/MTBI history have important implications for screening and treatment," the authors write.

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