Blast exposure: vestibular consequences and associated characteristics

Michael E Hoffer, Carey Balaban, Kim Gottshall, Ben J Balough, Michael R Maddox, Joseph R Penta
Otology & Neurotology 2010, 31 (2): 232-6

OBJECTIVE: To characterize vestibular and related symptoms seen after blast exposure.

STUDY DESIGN: Prospective single-subject design.

SETTINGS: Tertiary care facility and military field hospital.

PATIENTS: Active-duty US Military personnel exposed to blast(s) in Iraq and/or Afghanistan.

INTERVENTIONS: Vestibular function tests, auditory tests, and a structured history and physical examination.

RESULTS: Blast exposure induced vestibular disorders, and related symptoms are significantly different than those seen in blunt head trauma. The vestibular characteristics and objective tests of vestibular function significantly worsen in blast-exposed patients as a function of time between injury and presentation.

CONCLUSION: Blast exposure produces a unique set of vestibular disorders and associated symptoms that progress over time. Understanding the characteristics of these symptoms as they vary over time may be critical in designing treatment strategies that modify long-term outcome.

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