Study: Even slight head trauma increases risk of PTSD
Published: June 7, 2012
WASHINGTON — Last month, researchers in Boston found that exposure to even a single, powerful bomb blast can predispose military personnel to serious degenerative brain disease. This week, researchers from University of Rochester in New York are reporting that those roadside bomb attacks can also predispose troops to post-traumatic stress disorder as well, even if the injuries are slight.
The research, released Wednesday, used brain scans of 52 combat veterans to search for axonal injuries, a type of neuronal damage that occurs during a concussion. Investigators found the severity of those injuries correlated with the severity of the troops’ PTSD.
Even among patients with “subtle” brain injuries – no visible concussion or amnesia – the injuries appeared to make troops more vulnerable to psychiatric illnesses when coupled with stress or emotional trauma, researchers said.
The findings once again raise questions about the lasting impact of even mild head injuries, and the long-term health of those veterans.
Study authors also said their work shows the need for simpler tools to diagnose troops’ health after any head trauma. To uncover the axonal injuries, researchers used magnetic resonance imaging and diffusion tensor imaging tests, neither of which are practical for routine military medical use.