Investigation of the Relationship Between Frequency of Blast Exposure, mTBI History, and Post-traumatic Stress Symptoms
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) are common conditions among military personnel that frequently co-occur. This study investigated relationships between self-reported blast exposure, mTBI history, and current post-traumatic stress (PTS) symptoms in a population of active duty service members (n = 202) from the Intensive Outpatient Program at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence. Participants were divided into four mTBI groups (0, 1, 2, and 3+)
... four blast exposure groups (0-10, 11-100, 101-1,000, and 1,000+). Self-reported lifetime mTBI and blast history were obtained via the Ohio State University TBI Identification Method. PTSS severity was obtained via the PTSD Checklist-Civilian version (PCL-C). Several secondary measures of depression, anxiety, chronic mTBI symptoms, and sleep were also assessed. The total PCL-C scores differed significantly between mTBI groups, with significant differences detected between the 0/1 mTBI groups and the 3+ mTBI groups. Similar group differences were noted across the three PCL-C subgroup scores (avoidance, re-experiencing, and hyperarousal); however, when comparing the proportion of group participants meeting DSM-IV criteria for each symptom cluster, significant differences between mTBI groups were only noted for avoidance (P = .002). No group differences were noted in PTS symptom severity or distribution between blast groups. This study demonstrates an association between lifetime mTBI history and PTS symptom severity and distribution but failed to identify the significant group in self-reported symptoms between the blast exposure groups. Results suggest that additional research is needed to understand the neurobiological mechanism behind these associations and the need for the development of precise assessment tools that are able to more accurately quantify significant lifetime sub-concussive and blast exposures experienced by service members in training and combat operations.