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Concussion Raises PTSD Risk for Iraq Vets
Date:1/30/2008

Study found loss of consciousness increased chances of trauma the most

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers report that soldiers who have suffered concussions during their time in Iraq are more likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder and other physical health problems.

"There was indeed a higher rate of PTSD and/or health problems among those who had concussions versus those with other injuries," said study author Dr. Christopher Hoge, director of psychiatry and neuroscience at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, in Washington, D.C. His study is published in the Jan. 31 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"This is probably one of a very few studies which has begun to enumerate the incidence of mild traumatic brain injury [i.e. concussion] in returning veterans," said David Hovda, director of the Brain Injury Research Center at UCLA's Geffen School of Medicine, in Los Angeles.

According to background information in the study, more than 1.5 million U.S. military personnel have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan since 2001. Thanks to better protective gear, many of these men and women are surviving injuries that before would have killed them.

Head and neck injuries have been reported in one quarter of troops evacuated from these areas. The proportion of soldiers with concussion may be as high as 18 percent.

Hoge and his colleagues surveyed 2,525 U.S. Army infantry soldiers three to four months after they had returned home a yearlong deployment in Iraq. Soldiers reporting concussion (defined as an injury with loss of consciousness or altered mental status such as being dazed or confused) with soldiers reporting other injuries. The soldiers were from two brigades only.

Almost 44 percent of soldiers reporting an injury involving loss of consciousness met the criteria for PTSD versus only 27.3 percent of those reporting an injury involving alt
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