HealthDay News — US combat soldiers who have suffered a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) are more likely to experience a range of mental health disorders than soldiers with other serious injuries, according to a study recently published in Military Medicine.

David L. Chin, PhD, and John E. Zeber, PhD, both from University of Massachusetts in Amherst, assessed health care encounters of US military service members critically injured in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan from Feb. 1, 2002, to Feb. 1, 2011, using data from the Department of Defense Trauma Registry, acute and ambulatory care in military facilities, and civilian facilities reimbursed by Tricare. The relationship between TBI and the total number of mental health diagnoses was assessed.

The researchers identified 4980 service members meeting inclusion criteria. Most injuries occurred among members of the Army (72%) or Marines (25%) who were a mean age of 25.5 years. The prevalence of moderate or severe TBI was 31.6%, with more than 3-quarters of these injuries (78%) sustained from an explosion. Seven in 10 patients from this cohort were diagnosed with at least 1 mental health condition, with the adjusted risk conferred by TBI ranging from a modest increase for anxiety disorder (odds ratio, 1.27) to a large increase for a cognitive disorder (odds ratio, 3.24). TBI was associated with an increased number of mental health diagnoses (incidence rate ratio, 1.52).

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“There was a common belief that having a severe TBI resulted in an amnestic effect on posttraumatic stress disorder — the injuries were so severe that the patients have no memory of the event and that put them at lower risk of having mental health outcomes,” Chin said in a statement. “This data showed to the contrary.”

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