-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Jan. 20 (HealthDay News) -- British troops in Iraq and
Afghanistan have lower rates of minimal traumatic brain injury than
American troops, new research finds.
In addition, psychological factors present before troops are
deployed to combat zones have a major effect on lasting symptoms in
military personnel with this condition.
The findings appear in the January edition of the
Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, a special issue on minimal traumatic brain injury.
The journal notes that the minimal traumatic brain injury --
injuries with short-term loss of consciousness or changes in mental
status, sometimes followed by long-term physical, cognitive and
behavioral symptoms -- has been called the "signature injury" of
the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In one study, researchers looked at more than 4,600 U.K. troops
sent to Iraq or Afghanistan and found that the overall rate of
minimal traumatic brain injury was 4.4 percent, increasing to 9.5
percent among those involved in combat. Blast injuries and vehicle
crashes were the most common causes.
Previous studies have found that rates of minimal traumatic
brain injury among U.S. troops range from 12 percent to more than
22 percent, according to the journal news release.
In another study, the same team of researchers at King's College
London found that the difference in minimal traumatic brain injury
rates between U.K. and U.S. troops is partly related to deployment
length, which is longer for U.S. troops.
However, deployment time could not completely account for the
difference between the U.K. and U.S. troops, the researchers
They also found that psychological factors such as previous
mental health symptoms, alcohol abuse and post-traumatic stress
disorder were risk factors for persistent symptoms of minimal
traumatic brain injury.
In another study, U.S. researchers at Walter Reed Army Medical
Center found that symptoms related to minimal traumatic brain
injury were lower in veterans with more severe physical injuries.
This may be because the symptoms go unnoticed or develop later in
these patients, the researchers said.
Other studies found that caring for someone with minimal
traumatic brain injury places a heavy burden on family caregivers,
and reported on a promising new treatment approach for veterans who
minimal traumatic brain injury as well as post-traumatic stress
The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center has more about
traumatic brain injury.
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