Call 413.540.1234 to
schedule an appointment
CONCERN/EAP: 413.534.2625
Billing questions? Call: 413.540.1212
CRISIS: 413.733.6661

Alzheimers Disease and other Cognitive Disorders
Basic Information
Introduction & Causes of Cognitive DisordersDementiaAlzheimer's DiseaseOther Cognitive DisordersDementia Coping Skills & Behavior ManagementTraumatic Brain Injury (TBI)Conclusion and Resources
More InformationLatest News
Alzheimer's Disease Variants Linked to Brain AmyloidosisIdalopirdine May Not Improve Cognition in Mild Alzheimer'sHealth Tip: Alzheimer's and the HolidaysRheumatic Diseases Associated With Increased Dementia RiskNo Magic Bullet for Preventing Late-Life DementiaDementia May Be More Common in Rural AreasThere's Still No Proven Way to Prevent Alzheimer'sHealth Tip: Make Your Home Safer For People With Alzheimer'sAs Hearing Fades With Age, Dementia Risk May RiseAlzheimer's Cases to Double by 2060: ReportGene Discovery May Help Fight Alzheimer'sMemory Scores Limited As Alzheimer's Screening ToolMagnesium Boosts Environmental Enrichment in Alzheimer'sCould New 'Brain Training' Program Help Prevent Dementia?Millions Could Miss Out on a Potential Alzheimer's BreakthroughSleep Apnea May Boost Alzheimer's RiskNew Finding Hints at Clue to DementiaResilient Brain Connections May Help Against Alzheimer'sAmerica's Dementia Caregivers Cite Stresses, RewardsHealth Tip: Identifying Vascular DementiaOne Type of Dementia Is Especially CostlyA More Accurate Predictor for Alzheimer's?Failing Sense of Smell Tied to Dementia RiskMagnesium Levels Tied to Dementia RiskIs Dementia Declining Among Older Americans?Intracranial Pressure Monitoring No Benefit in Pediatric TBIGender-Specific High-Risk 'Window' Seen in Alzheimer'sWomen at Risk for Alzheimer's Face Critical 10-Year Window, Study SaysDo Fewer Nightly Dreams Mean Higher Dementia Risk in Seniors?Dementia Care: A Huge Financial Burden for U.S. FamiliesPopular Heartburn Drugs Don't Raise Risk of Alzheimer's: StudyFamilies Shoulder Majority of Costs Related to Dementia CareMidlife Vascular Risk Factors Tied to Increased Risk of DementiaBlood Pressure Fluctuations Tied to Dementia Risk in StudyMidlife Behaviors May Affect Your Dementia RiskTraveling With Dementia: Tips for Family CaregiversHigher Risk of Dementia Seen in Those Hailing From 'Stroke Belt'Health Tip: Alzheimer's Affects SleepIncreased Dementia Risk With Hearing Loss in Older AdultsNoninvasive Brain Test May Pinpoint Type of DementiaTargeting 9 Risk Factors Could Prevent 1 in 3 Dementia Cases: StudyAAIC: Rx + Training Shows Benefit in Advanced Alzheimer'sAAIC: Alzheimer Biomarkers Up With Sleep Disordered BreathingDozens of Potential Alzheimer's Meds in the PipelineSpecial Training Plus Medication Might Help People With Advanced Alzheimer'sOne Social Hour a Week Can Help Someone With DementiaSleep Problems: An Early Warning Sign of Alzheimer's?Severe Head Injury May Raise Dementia Risk Years LaterPPIs Not Found to Raise Risk of Alzheimer's DiseasePopular Heartburn Meds Don't Raise Alzheimer's Risk: Study
Questions and AnswersLinksBook Reviews
Related Topics

Aging & Geriatrics
Memory Problems
Elder Care

Psychiatric Scars of Wartime Brain Injury May Linger for Years

HealthDay News
by -- E.J. Mundell
Updated: May 1st 2017

new article illustration

MONDAY, May 1, 2017 (HealthDay News ) -- Brain injuries suffered during wartime exposure to an explosive device often leave psychiatric troubles that can last years, new research shows.

The study also discovered an "evolution" of symptoms, as cognitive (thinking and memory) symptoms ease, but psychological aftereffects linger.

Many soldiers who've suffered a traumatic brain injury "experience evolution rather than resolution of symptoms from the one- to five-year outcomes," said a team led by Christine MacDonald, from the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle.

One expert in head injury care said the findings raise important concerns.

"This suggests that soldiers experiencing a traumatic brain injury -- especially those at higher risk for psychiatric effects -- require much closer monitoring in the years after their injury," said Dr. Robert Glatter. He directs sports medicine and traumatic brain injury care in the department of emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

In the new study, MacDonald's team tracked five-year outcomes for 94 active-duty U.S. military service members who'd served in combat roles in Afghanistan. Fifty of the soldiers had experienced a "concussive blast traumatic brain injury," while the other 44 had not.

The soldiers' levels of cognitive and psychiatric disability were assessed at one year and five years.

The researchers reported that, in terms of cognitive disability, 36 of the 50 blast-injured soldiers did see an easing of their disability over the five years of the study. By the time of the five-year assessment, levels of thinking/memory were similar between soldiers affected by blast-related head trauma and those who hadn't had such exposures.

But the same couldn't be said for psychiatric symptoms. The study found that 80 percent of the blast-affected soldiers said they'd sought care from a licensed mental health professional over the four years between their two evaluations, compared to just 40 percent of soldiers without blast injuries.

Many soldiers, whether they'd been affected by blast injuries or not, found that their psychiatric troubles were tough to treat. Only about one in every five soldiers said that mental health programs had actually helped them, the findings showed.

Overall, MacDonald's team said that any worsening of symptoms over time "appears to be driven more by psychiatric symptoms than by cognitive deficits."

According to Glatter, the study suggests "that [soldiers'] period of vulnerability lasts much longer than currently envisioned."

And he noted that certain risk factors may raise the odds for long-term harm. The study found that "a pre-injury history of migraines, depression and anxiety may place soldiers who face direct combat at greater risk for mental health symptoms including [post-traumatic stress disorder], depression and suicide after a traumatic brain injury," Glatter said.

"All branches of the military need to face this reality when providing rehabilitation services in the crucial years following a traumatic brain injury, to provide more meaningful and comprehensive long-term care," he said.

That care needs to be improved, Glatter added.

"Current approaches for addressing mental health effects from traumatic brain injury are inadequate, with low percentages of those with and without [injury] reporting improvement in symptoms," Glatter noted.

Dr. Ajay Misra is head of neurosciences at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola, N.Y. He agreed that "even mild concussive injuries carry a risk for long-term disability with functional global disability, sleep disturbances, poor life satisfaction and psyche, and behavior problems, [even] without cognitive decline."

The study was published online May 1 in JAMA Neurology.

More information

Find out more about brain injury from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.