(HealthDay News) – Traumatic brain injury (TBI) during a recent military deployment is a strong predictor of posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms (PTSD), according to a study published Dec. 11 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Kate A. Yurgil, PhD, from Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System, and colleagues analyzed data from the prospective, longitudinal Marine Resiliency Study (June 2008–May 2012), in which structured clinical interviews and self-report assessments were administered one month before a seven-month deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan and then three to six months after deployment.

The researchers found that 56.8% of 1,648 active-duty Marine and Navy non-officer servicemen reported prior TBI, and 19.8% reported sustaining TBI between pre-deployment and post-deployment assessments; the majority of TBIs were mild (87.2%). Of the 287 reporting posttraumatic amnesia, 87.1% reported <24 hours of posttraumatic amnesia; of the 117 of those who reported losing consciousness, 94.9% reported <30 minutes of unconsciousness. Mild, deployment-related TBI raised predicted Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale scores by a factor of 1.23, and moderate/severe TBI raised predicted scores by a factor of 1.71. Severe pre-deployment symptoms, high combat intensity, and deployment-related TBI were associated with the highest probability of PTSD. For those with less severe pre-deployment PTSD symptoms, TBI doubled PTSD rates.

“TBI during the most recent deployment is the strongest predictor of post-deployment PTSD symptoms,” the authors conclude.

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