Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is common among military service members returning from OEF/OIF deployments. While a history of military mTBI has been demonstrated to be associated with increased risk of negative psychological outcomes (e.g., PTSD, depression, alcohol dependence), as well as disrupted brain connectivity, it is unknown how these conditions relate to neurodegenerative conditions, such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The purpose of this study is to better understand biological and psychological factors contributing to progressive functional deterioration among Veterans with a history of military concussion. In particular, to identify Veterans demonstrating evidence of worsening cognitive disruption and/or neural degeneration.
Improved characterization of long-term, ongoing damage associated with mTBI among active duty service members and Veterans may improve the diagnostic and monitoring procedures used in these populations, reduce clinical costs, and improve long-term Veteran health outcomes. We aim to test several psychological and biological measures for utility as markers of mTBI-related neurodegeneration, and characterize the utility and limitations of self-report measures in the context of mTBI and comorbid psychopathology.
The results of this research may have implications for the assessment and documentation of mTBI during deployment, education of soldiers and military medical providers, long-term monitoring of service members who sustain mTBI, and enable more efficient provision of long-term care. Therefore, there are clear potential benefits for active duty military as well as for Veteran care.