Health Outcomes Associated With Military Deployment: Mild Traumatic Brain Injury, Blast, Trauma, and Combat Associations in the Florida National Guard.
ABSTRACT Vanderploeg RD, Belanger HG, Horner RD, Spehar AM, Powell-Cope G, Luther SL, Scott SG. Health outcomes associated with military deployment: mild traumatic brain injury, blast, trauma, and combat associations in the Florida National Guard. OBJECTIVES: To determine the association between specific military deployment experiences and immediate and longer-term physical and mental health effects, as well as examine the effects of multiple deployment-related traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) on health outcomes. DESIGN: Online survey of cross-sectional cohort. Odds ratios were calculated to assess the association between deployment-related factors (ie, physical injuries, exposure to potentially traumatic deployment experiences, combat, blast exposure, and mild TBI) and current health status, controlling for potential confounders, demographics, and predeployment experiences. SETTING: Nonclinical. PARTICIPANTS: Members (N=3098) of the Florida National Guard (1443 deployed, 1655 not deployed). INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Presence of current psychiatric diagnoses and health outcomes, including postconcussive and non-postconcussive symptoms. RESULTS: Surveys were completed an average of 31.8 months (SD=24.4, range=0-95) after deployment. Strong, statistically significant associations were found between self-reported military deployment-related factors and current adverse health status. Deployment-related mild TBI was associated with depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and postconcussive symptoms collectively and individually. Statistically significant increases in the frequency of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and a postconcussive symptom complex were seen comparing single to multiple TBIs. However, a predeployment TBI did not increase the likelihood of sustaining another TBI in a blast exposure. Associations between blast exposure and abdominal pain, pain on deep breathing, shortness of breath, hearing loss, and tinnitus suggested residual barotrauma. Combat exposures with and without physical injury were each associated not only with PTSD but also with numerous postconcussive and non-postconcussive symptoms. The experience of seeing others wounded or killed or experiencing the death of a buddy or leader was associated with indigestion and headaches but not with depression, anxiety, or PTSD. CONCLUSIONS: Complex relationships exist between multiple deployment-related factors and numerous overlapping and co-occurring current adverse physical and psychological health outcomes. Various deployment-related experiences increased the risk for postdeployment adverse mental and physical health outcomes, individually and in combination. These findings suggest that an integrated physical and mental health care approach would be beneficial to postdeployment care.
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ABSTRACT: The Neurobehavioral Symptom Inventory (NSI) is a self-report measure of symptoms commonly associated with Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS) that may emerge after mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Despite frequent clinical use, no NSI norms have been developed. Thus, the main objective of this study was to establish NSI normative data using the four NSI factors (i.e., vestibular, somatic, cognitive, and affective) identified by Vanderploeg, Silva, et al. ( 2014 ) among nonclinical epidemiological samples of deployed and non-deployed Florida National Guard members as well as a reference sample of Guard members with combat-related mTBI. In addition, NSI subscale profile patterns were compared across four distinct subgroups (i.e., non-deployed-nonclinical, deployed-nonclinical, deployed-mTBI, and deployed-PTSD). The deployed-nonclinical group endorsed greater PCS symptom severity than the non-deployed group, and the mTBI group uniformly endorsed more symptoms than both nonclinical groups. However, the PTSD group endorsed higher symptom severity relative to the other three subgroups. As such, this highlights the non-specificity of PCS symptoms and suggests that PTSD is associated with higher symptom endorsement than mTBI.The Clinical Neuropsychologist 03/2014; · 1.68 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Co-morbid mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has become the signature disorder for returning combat veterans. The clinical heterogeneity and overlapping symptomatology of mTBI and PTSD underscore the need to develop a preclinical model that will enable the characterization of unique and overlapping features and allow discrimination between both disorders. This study details the development and implementation of a novel experimental paradigm for PTSD and combined PTSD-mTBI. The PTSD paradigm involved exposure to a danger-related predator odor under repeated restraint over a 21 day period and a physical trauma (inescapable footshock). We administered this paradigm alone, or in combination with a previously established mTBI model. We report outcomes of behavioral, pathological and biochemical profiles at an acute timepoint. PTSD animals demonstrated recall of traumatic memories, anxiety and an impaired social behavior. In both mTBI and combination groups there was a pattern of disinhibitory like behavior. mTBI abrogated both contextual fear and impairments in social behavior seen in PTSD animals. No major impairment in spatial memory was observed in any group. Examination of neuroendocrine and neuroimmune responses in plasma revealed a trend toward increase in corticosterone in PTSD and combination groups, and an apparent increase in Th1 and Th17 proinflammatory cytokine(s) in the PTSD only and mTBI only groups respectively. In the brain there were no gross neuropathological changes in any groups. We observed that mTBI on a background of repeated trauma exposure resulted in an augmentation of axonal injury and inflammatory markers, neurofilament L and ICAM-1 respectively. Our observations thus far suggest that this novel stress-trauma-related paradigm may be a useful model for investigating further the overlapping and distinct spatio-temporal and behavioral/biochemical relationship between mTBI and PTSD experienced by combat veterans.Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 01/2014; 8:213. · 4.76 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Mild blast-induced traumatic brain injury (mbTBI) poses special diagnostic challenges due to its overlapping symptomatology with other neuropsychiatric conditions and the lack of objective outcome measures. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) can potentially provide clinically relevant information toward a differential diagnosis. In this study, we aimed to determine if single and repeated (5 total; administered on consecutive days) mild blast overpressure exposure results in detectable structural changes in the brain, especially in the hippocampus. Fixed rat brains were analyzed by ex vivo DTI at 2 h and 42 days after blast (or sham) exposure(s). An anatomy-based region of interest analysis revealed significant interactions in axial and radial diffusivity in a number of subcortical structures at 2 h only. Differences between single- and multiple-injured rats were largely in the thalamus but not the hippocampus. Our findings demonstrate the value and the limitations of DTI in providing a better understanding of mbTBI pathobiology.Scientific Reports 01/2014; 4:4809. · 5.08 Impact Factor