A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, relayed that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may account for most of the ongoing health problems and physical symptoms experienced by U.S. soldiers with mild traumatic brain injury returning from Iraq. The researchers studied 2525 U.S. Army infantry soldiers who had been deployed for one year in Iraq 3 to 4 months after their return home. Of these soldiers, 10.3% reported injuries resulting in an altered mental state, 4.9% reported injuries resulting in loss of consciousness, and 17.2% other injuries. 43.9% of those that reported a loss of consciousness due to injury were reported to have PTSD, as compared to 27.3% among those that reported an altered mental state. The researchers concluded that, “After adjustment for PTSD and depression, mild traumatic brain injury was no longer significantly associated with these physical health outcomes or symptoms, except for headache… Mild traumatic brain injury (i.e., concussion) occurring among soldiers deployed in Iraq is strongly associated with PTSD and physical health problems 3 to 4 months after the soldiers return home.” The following is an except of an article from CNN.com that discussed the findings:
Sgt. Ryan Kahlor has the same nightmare every time, a vision of walls painted in blood and fat, and men on top of houses, throwing pieces of Marines’ bodies off rooftops. It’s a vision he can’t shake, because he lived through it while deployed to Iraq last year.
“I have nightmares. I dwell on it. I think about it all the time,” said Kahlor, 24. “Staying asleep is hard. I associate a bed with the dreams I have. My parents think I’m crazy, but I sleep better when I’m on the floor.”
Kahlor has post-traumatic stress disorder, which can develop after surviving a traumatic event in which a person is physically threatened or injured.
He also experienced concussions while surviving four explosions during his 14 months in Iraq. He said these events left him with a detached retina, vertigo, memory problems and dizziness.
A new military study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine says soldiers who suffered concussions in Iraq were not only at higher risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, but also that the depression and PTSD, not the head injuries, may be the cause of ongoing physical symptoms.