Brain injury symptoms may continue for years among veterans


June 25, 2012

Topic: Injury prevention

Brain injury symptoms may persist for years among veterans.

Researchers from the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center discovered that veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces who endured traumatic brain injuries in combat may continue to experience the symptoms of these mishaps for up to eight years after the incident, as reported by HealthDay. These findings underscore the importance of injury prevention in military operations.

More than 230,000 American service members have endured traumatic brain injuries, as estimated by the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center. Certain military duties, particularly ones related to combat, can increase the risk of these incidents.

In order to investigate the long-term consequences of these injuries, a team of scientists reviewed the medical data of 500 veterans who underwent medical evaluations between 2008 and 2011. Study participants were divided according to the length of time since they first incurred their injuries: within two years, three to four years, five to six years, or seven to eight years.

Results showed that the length of time had no bearing on the frequency of severity of symptoms, which included headache, depression, difficulty with decision making and balance problems.

"There was a tendency for depression to be a bit more common in the five-to-eight [year] group," said study author James Couch, quoted by the news source. "So not only does this not go away, which is what we figured we would probably find - it may tend to get worse."

These findings were presented at the American Headache Society's annual meeting.


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