WASHINGTON – Optometrists who treat veterans should be aware of the various physical and psychological health problems that occur in conjunction with mild traumatic brain injury, a researcher stated here at Optometry’s Meeting.
Thomas G. Urosevich, OD, and colleagues surveyed 289 veterans who had served during conflict in Iraq or Afghanistan, as part of a larger study. The subjects were outpatients of the Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania.
According to the poster abstract, 95% were male, 62.2% were between 18 and 44 years old, 93.4% were white, 76.8% were National Guard/Reserve veterans, and 29.1% reported a history of service-related concussive effects (mild traumatic brain injury, or mTBI). Of this last group, 53.6% had high combat exposure, and 60.7% had multiple war zone tours.
The researchers also reported that 50.0% of the last group had current TBI symptoms, 53.6% reported having pain in the last month that interfered with their life, 21.4% reported being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in the past year, 54.8% had participated in psychological services in the past year, 53.6% had a current psychological disorder, and 46.4% stated they had fair or poor health.
Urosevich shared the study results during a live presentation of the poster.
“We found that high combat experience is the best predictor of a history of mTBI, followed by pain that keeps you from normal daily activities for an extended period of time or mental health problems,” he told attendees. “If you add mTBI, you’re going to present with additional psychology and health problems.”
Urosevich concluded: “It’s important for us to look at how we can identify folks who have sustained mTBI through their military service.” – by Nancy Hemphill, ELS, FAAO
Urosevich TG, et al. Concussive effects (mTBI) in veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflict era in relation to other physical and psychological health problems. Presented at: Optometry’s Meeting; Washington; June 21-25, 2017.
Disclosure: Urosevich reported no relevant financial disclosures.