Cognitive and self-reported psychological outcomes of blast-induced mild traumatic brain injury in veterans: a preliminary study

Jacob D Bolzenius, P Tyler Roskos, Lauren E Salminen, Robert H Paul, Richard D Bucholz
Applied Neuropsychology. Adult 2015, 22 (2): 79-87
The increased use of explosives in combat has resulted in a large number of returning veterans suffering from blast-related mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and self-reported complications. It remains unclear whether this increase in self-reported difficulties is unique to the blast mechanism or stressful preinjury environment and whether cognitive-functioning deficits correspond with these difficulties in the postacute phase. This study examined the relationship between cognitive performance and self-reported psychological and somatic symptoms of blast-related mTBI compared with civilian mTBI, independent of comorbid posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. Twelve veterans with blast-related mTBI were compared to 18 individuals with civilian mTBI on cognitive tests and self-report questionnaires. Univariate analyses failed to reveal differences on any individual cognitive test. Further, veterans reported more psychological and somatic complaints. These self-reported difficulties were not significantly correlated with neuropsychological performance. Overall, preliminary results suggest that in the postacute phase, subjective complaints related to blast-related mTBI do not covary with objective cognitive performance. Additionally, cognitive outcomes from blast-related mTBI were similar to those of civilian forms of mTBI. Future studies should identify the cognitive and self-reported sequelae of blast-related mTBI independent of comorbid PTSD in a larger sample of veterans.

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