Study of soldiers shows no difference between blast, non-blast concussions

St. Louis – Military personnel with concussions caused by explosions had outcomes similar to personnel with concussions from other causes, according to a study from Washington University in St. Louis.

Researchers analyzed 255 U.S. military personnel who were injured during active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Six to 12 months after injury, researchers evaluated 178 patients, including 53 who had concussions involving an explosion and 29 who concussions unrelated to a blast. For comparison, the study included 27 patients with blast exposure but no brain injury and 69 with no blast exposure.

Researchers saw no difference in overall disability between the two groups with traumatic brain injury – 77 percent of patients involved in explosions suffered moderate to severe disability, compared with 79 percent of those with brain trauma from other causes. Researchers also saw no differences in headache severity, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and performance on cognitive tests between the two groups.

“We still think the physics of how a blast interacts with the brain is quite different from other kinds of brain trauma,” senior author David L. Brody, associate professor of neurology, said in a press release. “But we have yet to find the consequences of that – if there are any – for patients.”

The study was published online June 16 in JAMA Neurology.