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TBI Increases the Risk of PTSD

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Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the signature wounds of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, are called the invisible wounds of war because you can’t see the wounds from the outside.

Although TBI and PTSD cause devastating damage to the brain, they leave no visible scars on the body. The scars are inside the brain itself.

A new study of 1,648 Marines returning from combat in Afghanistan, has found there is a direct link between Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The Marines who suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in Afghanistan have a much higher rate of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Just because you can't see it doesn't mean it isn't there.
Claire London

The study, Association Between Traumatic Brain Injury and Risk of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Active-Duty Marines, was published this week in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

The study was conducted before and after the 1,648 Marines from four battalions stationed in Southern California were deployed to Afghanistan between 2008 and 2012.

Each of the 1,648 Marines was assessed for PTSD before deployment; and then assessed again three to six months after they returned from Afghanistan.

The study found that Marines who suffered even a mild Traumatic Brain Injury while deployed were twice as likely to have PTSD when they returned home.

Roadside bomb blasts are the most common cause of brain injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan. One explanation of the link between TBI and PTSD is that the bomb blasts, are psychologically traumatizing as well physically damaging.

According to the study, “Even when accounting for predeployment symptoms, prior TBI, and combat intensity, TBI during the most recent deployment is the strongest predictor of postdeployment PTSD symptoms.”

The findings of the study are significant because 20% of the American Servicemen and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have returned home with either a blast-related concussion, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or both.

2,333,972 American military personnel had been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since the 9/11 attacks. That means the 466,794 American servicemen and women have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan with either Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

That’s a lot of combat veterans suffering from the invisible wounds of war.

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