Objective: To describe the prevalence of self-reported rates of auditory, visual, and dual sensory impairment (DSI) in Afghanistan and Iraq war Veterans receiving traumatic brain injury (TBI) evaluations.
Design: Retrospective medical chart review.
Participants: Thirty-six thousand nine hundred nineteen Veterans who received a TBI evaluation between October 2007 and June 2009. Final sample included 12,521 subjects judged to have deployment-related TBI and a comparison group of 9106 participants with no evidence of TBI.
Main outcome measure: Self-reported auditory and visual impairment.
Results: Self-reported sensory impairment rates were: 34.6% for DSI, 31.3% for auditory impairment only, 9.9% for visual impairment only, and 24.2% for none/mild sensory impairment. Those with TBI and blast exposure had highest rate of DSI. Regression analyses showed that auditory impairment was the strongest predictor of visual impairment, and vice versa, suggesting these impairments may derive from a common source.
Conclusions: Veterans who self-report clinically significant hearing or vision difficulty during routine TBI evaluation should be evaluated systematically and comprehensively to determine the extent of sensory impairment. Identifying DSI could allow clinicians to collaborate and maximize rehabilitation.