Abstract

Objective

This study examined the consistency of self-reported symptoms and concussive events in combat veterans who reported experiencing concussive events.

Method

One hundred and forty, single deployed, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn combat veterans with Veteran Health Administration (VHA) Comprehensive Traumatic Brain Injury Evaluations (CTBIE) and no post-deployment head injury were examined to assess consistency of self-reported (a) traumatic brain injury (TBI)-related symptoms, (b) post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)-related symptoms, and (c) TBI-related concussive events from soon after deployment to time of VHA CTBIE.

Results

Compared to their self-report of symptoms and traumatic events at the time of their Post-Deployment Health Assessment, at the time of their comprehensive VHA evaluation, subjects reported significantly greater impairment in concentration, decision making, memory, headache, and sleep. In addition, although half the subjects denied any PTSD symptoms post-deployment, approximately three quarters reported experiencing all four PTSD screening symptoms near the time of the VHA CTBIEs. At the latter time, subjects also reported significantly more TBI-related concussive events, as well as more post-concussive sequelae such as loss of consciousness immediately following these concussive events. Finally, although 84% reported a level of impairment so severe as to render all but the simplest activity doable, the vast majority simultaneously reported working and/or attending college.

Conclusions

These findings raise questions regarding the accuracy of veteran self-report of both near and distant traumatic events, and argue for the inclusion of contemporaneous Department of Defense (DOD) records in veteran assessment and treatment planning.

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