Background: Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and its potential long-term consequences is a primary concern for the US military. The purpose of the study is to evaluate if participants improved in anxiety/mood symptoms, sleep quality, and vestibular/ocular symptoms following a 6-month active intervention, and to explore the effect of targeted treatment for those with specific symptoms/impairments (e.g., psychological, sleep, ocular, vestibular).
Materials and methods: A multidisciplinary clinical team adjudicated participants (n=72, 35.8±8.6 years old, 19% female) to have one of the following primary clinical trajectories: psychological (PSYCH; n=34), sleep (SLEEP; n=25) and vestibular/ocular (VESTIB/OCULAR; n=18). Participants returned for follow-up assessment 6 months later. Assessments included the Post-Concussion Symptom Scale [PCSS], Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 [GAD-7], Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index [PSQI], and Dizziness Handicap Inventory [DHI]. Change in concussion symptoms and primary outcome for the given trajectory (i.e., PSYCH=GAD-7, SLEEP=PSQI, VESTIB/OCULAR=DHI) was assessed.
Results: Following the 6-month intervention, participants reduced PCSS Score (-14.5±2.4; p<.001; η2=0.34), GAD-7 (-3.1±0.5; p<.001; η2=0.34), PSQI (-2.7±0.5; p<.001; η2=0.34) and DHI (-9.2±2.0; p<.001; η2=0.23). PSYCH (n=34) reduced PCSS score (-17.9±3.6; p<.001; η2=0.45) and GAD-7 (-3.1±0.7; p<.001; η2=0.38). SLEEP (n=25) reduced PCSS score (-8.8±4.4; p=.06; η2=0.15) and PSQI (-3.6±0.9; p<.001; η2=0.45) scores. VESTIB/OCULAR (n=18) reduced PCSS score (-16.7±4.8; p=.03; η2=0.45), and DHI (-15.7±5.5; p=.012; η2=0.35).
Conclusions: Large effects were observed for concussion, anxiety, sleep, and dizziness symptom reduction over 6-month treatment. Each primary outcome demonstrated a larger treatment effect for the given trajectory than the overall sample, indicating that targeted treatment can reduce symptom burden in patients with mTBI with chronic symptoms.