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Veterans with mild traumatic brain injury have brain abnormalities
Date:2/7/2013

Mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), including concussion, is one of the most common types of neurological disorder, affecting approximately 1.3 million Americans annually. It has received more attention recently because of its frequency and impact among two groups of patients: professional athletes, especially football players; and soldiers returning from mid-east conflicts with blast-related TBI. An estimated 10 to 20 percent of the more than 2 million U.S. soldiers deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan have experienced TBI.

A recent study by psychiatrists with the Iowa City VA Medical Center and University of Iowa Health Care finds that soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with mild TBI have measurable abnormalities in the white matter of their brains when compared to returning veterans who have not experienced TBI. These abnormalities appear to be related to the severity of the injury and are related to cognitive deficits. The findings were published online in December in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

"In the military population we studied, patients with TBI have more alterations, sometimes called 'potholes,' in the white matter of their brains than patients without a history of TBI," says senior study author Ricardo Jorge, M.D., UI professor of psychiatry. "The more severe the injury, the more white matter abnormalities occur. There is also a correlation between increased numbers of potholes and increased severity of cognitive alterations in executive functions -- the ability to make a plan or a decision, for example."

Despite its prevalence, diagnosing mild TBI is difficult, often relying on a patient's recollection of a possible past head injury. In addition, symptoms of mild TBI tend to be wide-ranging and non-specific, including problems with vision, hearing, balance, emotions, and thinking. There are currently few good tools available to identify the condition or monitor the brain's recovery or deterioration.'/>"/>

Contact: Jennifer Brown
jennifer-l-brown@uiowa.edu
319-356-7124
University of Iowa Health Care
Source:Eurekalert

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