Headaches among Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom veterans with mild traumatic brain injury associated with exposures to explosions

Robert L Ruff, Suzanne S Ruff, Xiao-Feng Wang
Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development 2008, 45 (7): 941-52
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a common injury type among Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF) veterans, and headaches are a frequent consequence of TBI. We examined the hypothesis that among veterans who reported mild TBI caused by exposure to an explosion during deployment in OIF/OEF, those with residual neurocognitive deficits would have a higher frequency of headaches and more severe headaches. We evaluated 155 consecutive veterans with neurological examination and neuropsychological testing. We excluded 29 veterans because they did not have mild TBI or they did not complete the evaluation. We analyzed headache pattern, intensity, and frequency. Among the 126 veterans studied, 80 had impairments on neurological examination or neuropsychological testing that were best attributed to TBI. Veterans with impairments had been exposed to more explosions and were more likely to have headache, features of migraine, more severe pain, more frequent headaches, posttraumatic stress disorder, and impaired sleep with nightmares.

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