Traumatic brain injury screening: preliminary findings in a US Army Brigade Combat Team

J Head Trauma Rehabil. Jan-Feb 2009;24(1):14-23. doi: 10.1097/HTR.0b013e31819581d8.

Abstract

Objectives: The objective of this article is to report the proportion of soldiers in a Brigade Combat Team (BCT) with at least 1 clinician-confirmed deployment-acquired traumatic brain injury (TBI) and to describe the nature of sequelae associated with such injuries.

Participants: Members of an Army unit (n = 3973) that served in Iraq were screened for history of TBI. Those reporting an injury (n = 1292) were further evaluated regarding sequelae. Of the injuries suffered, 907 were TBIs and 385 were other types of injury. The majority of TBIs sustained were mild.

Methods: Postdeployment, responses to the Warrior Administered Retrospective Casualty Assessment Tool (WARCAT) facilitated clinical interviews regarding injury history and associated somatic (ie, headache, dizziness, balance) and neuropsychiatric symptoms (ie, irritability, memory). Traumatic brain injury diagnosis was based on the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine mild TBI criteria, which requires an injury event followed by an alteration in consciousness.

Results: A total of 22.8% of soldiers in a BCT returning from Iraq had clinician-confirmed TBI. Those with TBI were significantly more likely to recall somatic and/or neuropsychiatric symptoms immediately postinjury and endorse symptoms at follow-up than were soldiers without a history of deployment-related TBI. A total of 33.4% of soldiers with TBI reported 3 or more symptoms immediately postinjury compared with 7.5% at postdeployment. For soldiers injured without TBI, rates of 3 or more symptoms postinjury and postdeployment were 2.9% and 2.3%, respectively. In those with TBI, headache and dizziness were most frequently reported postinjury, with irritability and memory problems persisting and presenting over time.

Conclusion: Following deployment to Iraq, a clinician-confirmed TBI history was identified in 22.8% of soldiers from a BCT. Those with TBI were significantly more likely to report postinjury and postdeployment somatic and/or neuropsychiatric symptoms than those without this injury history. Overall, symptom endorsement decreased over time.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blast Injuries / complications
  • Brain Injuries / complications*
  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis
  • Brain Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iraq War, 2003-2011*
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Military Personnel*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Trauma Severity Indices
  • United States / epidemiology