Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) among UK military personnel whilst deployed in Afghanistan in 2011.Brain Inj. 2014; 28(7):896-9.BI
mTBI has been termed the 'signature injury' of recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Most mTBI research uses retrospective accounts of exposure and point of injury symptoms; mTBI is reportedly less common among UK than US Forces.
This study examined the rate of mTBI exposure and symptoms in 1363 UK military personnel deployed in Afghanistan in 2011 using a self-report questionnaire. Data were collected in the operational location during the 5th month of a 6-month deployment. Personnel reported injuries and symptoms related to six events including fragmentation, blast, bullet, fall, motor vehicle accident and 'other' exposure.
Eighty (5.9%) reported at least one potential mTBI exposure during the current deployment and 1.6% (n = 22) reported injury and one or more mTBI symptoms (1 year incidence rate = 3.2%). Higher PTSD symptom scores were significantly associated with reporting potential mTBI (p ≤ 0.001) and mTBI with symptoms (p ≤ 0.001).
This study used contemporaneous data gathered in the deployed location which are subject to less memory distortion than studies using post-deployment recall. The incidence of mTBI was substantially lower than those reported in both US and UK post-deployment studies which is consistent with inflated reporting of symptoms when measured post-deployment.