Evaluating military personnel with traumatic brain injuries, Washington University School of Medicine researchers have found that early symptoms of post-traumatic stress, such as anxiety, sadness and irritability are the strongest predictors of later disability. The results were surprising because mental health more closely correlated with disability than assessments typically made after concussions, such as tests of memory, balance, coordination, and severity of headaches.
WHEN DOCTORS EVALUATE CONCUSSIONS, THEY LOOK AT A PERSONS BALANCE, WHETHER THAT INDIVIDUAL IS HAVING HEADACHES AND OTHER PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS OF BRAIN INJURY. BUT A NEW STUDY FROM RESEARCHERS AT WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY IN ST. LOUIS, THE NAVAL MEDICAL CENTER AND THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON IN SEATTLE, HAS FOUND THAT WHEN EVALUATING DISABILITY RISK IN MILITARY PERSONNEL WHOVE SUFFERED CONCUSSSIONS ON THE BATTLEFIELD, ITS IMPORTANT TO SCREEN FOR PSYCHIATRIC SYMPTOMS, TOO. JIM DRYDEN REPORTS
EVALUATING PEOPLE WITH TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES SUSTAINTED ON THE BATTLEFIELD, THE RESEARCHERS FOUND THAT EARLY MEASURES OF PSYCHIATRIC HEALTH ARE BETTER PREDICTORS OF LATER DISABILITY THAN THE TYPICAL ASSESSMENTS OF MEMORY, THINKING, BALANCE, HEADACHES AND DIZZINESS. PARTNERING WITH THE U.S. MILITARY, THE RESEARCHERS EVALUATED TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY FROM BLAST EXPOSURE IN ACTIVE DUTY MILITARY PERSONNEL IN AFGHANISTAN IN 2012. WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY NEUROLOGIST DAVID BRODY WAS THE STUDYS SENIOR INVESTIGATOR.
(act) :16 o/c long-term disability
The severity of post-traumatic stress symptoms and depressive
symptoms, at very early times in the first seven days after
injury, was the strongest predictor of long-term disability.
BRODY SAYS STANDARD CONCUSSION ASSESSMENTS DIDNT TELL THE RESEACHERS VERY MUCH ABOUT LATER PROBLEMS. INSTEAD, THOSE EARLY SYMPTOMS OF PSYCHIATRIC DISTRESS WERE THE BETTER PREDICTORS.
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Previous studies have not assessed post-traumatic stress
symptoms and depressive symptoms at early times after injury.
Thats always been thought to be a late phenomenon. So we
dont know the origin of those symptoms, but nonetheless,
the severity of those symptoms was the strongest predictor.
FIRST AUTHOR CHRISTINE MACDONALD, A RESEARCHER AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON IN SEATTLE, SAYS SHE WAS A BIT SURPRISED AT THE LONG-TERM IMPLICATIONS OF EARLY SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION AND POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER.
(act) :24 o/c with poly-trauma
The surprising part was that these seemingly trivial
exposures had some fairly significant impact when we were
able to connect the dots and look at them at, you know,
six to 12 months outcome. They had surprisingly high levels
of moderate disability, especially when you compare to
comparable civilian studies of mild, or concussive brain
injury, even those with poly-trauma.
THAT IS INJURIES IN ADDITION TO CONCUSSION, LIKE BURNS OR BROKEN BONES. AND BRODY SAYS THAT STANDARD EVALUATIONS OF TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY IN MILITARY SERVICE PEOPLE DONT USUALLY INCLUDE A LOOK AT SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION OR POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS. INSTEAD, MILITARY DOCTORS EVALUATE BLAST-RELATED TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES IN THE SAME WAY THAT SPORTS MEDICINE PHYSICIANS EVALUATE CONCUSSIONS IN ATHLETES.
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Looking at assessments of cognitive function, balance
and somatic symptoms things like headaches, dizziness.
Although those things are definitely true, those are not
the things that predicted long-term outcomes.
BRODY SAYS MORE STUDY IS NEEDED, BUT HE SAYS INCLUDING EVALUATIONS OF POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS AND DEPRESSION IN ASSESSMENTS OF MILITARY PERSONNEL WITH TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES MIGHT BE A GOOD IDEA.
(act) :15 o/c right away
Post-traumatic stress and depression evaluations were not
part of the routine, clinical evaluation. Those were for
research only. One military officer who saw these results
early, before we published it, said to me, Oh, so weve
got to start doing that right away.
BRODY, MACDONALD AND THEIR COLLEAGUES REPORT THEIR FINDINGS IN THE JOURNAL BRAIN. IM JIM DRYDEN…