By Serena Gordon – HealthDay Reporter
WEDNESDAY, Dec. 11, 2013 (HealthDay News) — Active-duty Marines who suffer a traumatic brain injury face significantly higher risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a new study.
Other factors that raise the risk include severe pre-deployment symptoms of post-traumatic stress and high combat intensity, researchers report.
But even after taking those factors and past brain injury into account, the study authors concluded that a new traumatic brain injury during a veteran’s most recent deployment was the strongest predictor of PTSD symptoms after the deployment.
The study by Kate Yurgil, of the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System, and colleagues was published online Dec. 11 in JAMA Psychiatry.
Each year, as many as 1.7 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury, according to study background information.
A traumatic brain injury occurs when the head violently impacts another object, or an object penetrates the skull, reaching the brain, according to the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
War-related traumatic brain injuries are common. The use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), rocket-propelled grenades and land mines in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are the main contributors to deployment-related traumatic brain injuries today. More than half are caused by IEDs, the study authors noted.
Previous research has suggested that experiencing a traumatic brain injury increases the risk of PTSD. The disorder can occur after someone experiences a traumatic event. Such events put the body and mind in a high-alert state because you feel that you or someone else is in danger.
For some people, the stress related to the traumatic event doesn’t go away. They may relive the event over and over again, or they may avoid people or situations that remind them of the event. They may also feel jittery and always on alert, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Many people with traumatic brain injury also report having symptoms of PTSD. It’s been unclear, however, whether the experience leading up to the injury caused the post-traumatic stress symptoms, or if the injury itself caused an increase in PTSD symptoms.
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