It should be no surprise that traumatic brain injuries can cause disability, but the number of US veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who are unable to work due to brain injuries is still a shock.
A new report finds that approximately 45 percent of US veterans from the most recent wars in the Middle East who suffered traumatic brain injuries are unemployed, notably higher than the 33 percent of unemployed veterans who experienced mild brain injury or no brain injury.
As reported by Boston University, mild traumatic brain injuries have been more common during both wars, but the number of TBIs have risen significantly due to increasing usage of improvised explosive devises.
The findings, published in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, indicate veterans who are unemployed and not looking for work are statistically more likely to have experienced a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury, have lower education levels, suffer from co-morbid PTSD, and experience depression and anxiety.
The research team was led by Terri K. Pogoda, research assistant professor in health polocy and management at BUSPH and a researcher with the VA Boston’s Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation Research. In their report, the team said the findings “underscore the need to investigate why unemployment rates are high among this cohort, and what assistance can be provided to address veterans’ multiple needs.”
The researchers also noted that more than 80 percent of the sample group had at least one suspected psychiatric condition, and 42 percent showed signs of having two more more. Multiple conditions were also significantly more common among those who were unemployed and not looking for work.
“Simultaneously addressing health-related, educational, and/or vocational needs may fill a critical gap for helping veterans readjust to civilian life and achieve their academic and vocational potential,” the research team said.