WEDNESDAY, June 20 (HealthDay News) -- Lingering symptoms from combat-related traumatic brain injuries -- even "mild" cases -- may persist for years, according to a new study of U.S. veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Veterans were still battling headaches, depression, dizziness and other symptoms up to eight years after their head injury occurred, researchers found.
The study looked at 500 veterans who underwent general health and depression screenings between 2008 and 2011 at the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center and were found to have symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury and post-concussion syndrome.
The participants, mostly men, were grouped according to whether their head injury had occurred within the previous two years, three to four years, five to six years, or seven to eight years.
The patients self-rated six symptoms: headache, dizziness, balance problems, poor coordination, difficulty with decisions, and depression.
Whether the injury had occurred two years or eight years earlier made no significant difference in frequency or intensity of symptoms. And the type of injury made no difference.
"There was a tendency for depression to be a bit more common in the five-to-eight [year] group," said study author Dr. James Couch, a professor of neurology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City. "So not only does this not go away, which is what we figured we would probably find -- it may tend to get worse."
Traumatic brain injury is considered a hallmark combat injury.
"About two-thirds of the people had primarily blast injuries, and about one-third had injuries related to falls, motor vehicle accidents, and so forth," Couch said. "One of my patients had a rocket hit a balcony right above him, and he was knocked out by the falling pieces of concrete."
Study cases fell on the lower end of the tra
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