Blast Injuries May Predispose U.S. Service Members to Development of PTSD
Institute of Medicine report findings are consistent with those observed in military patients treated at Shepherd Center.
A new report released by the Institute of Medicine finds that the effects and severity of blast exposure for military service members is likely much more significant than originally thought.
These findings are in line with what Shepherd Center experts have observed from treating military service members in the hospital’s SHARE (Shaping Hope and Recovery Excellence) Military Initiative. SHARE is a comprehensive outpatient day program that extends Shepherd’s continuum of care to U.S. service members who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. The specialized rehabilitation program helps military personnel who have sustained mild traumatic brain injury and may have significant physical, behavioral and cognitive impairments as a result.
Andrew Dennison, M.D., a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician who treats SHARE clients, weighed in on the report’s findings:
“Those of us providing care for wounded military service members have suspected for some time that there is a link between blast injury and the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD_,” he said. “Unfortunately, the data is not strong enough to determine causation. The effects of blast injury may predispose service members to the development of PTSD through any combination of physical, psychological and even social mechanisms.
“This report notes support for the association of mild blast injury with post-concussive symptoms and headaches, and this certainly is consistent with our experience in Shepherd Center’s SHARE Military Initiative,” Dr. Dennison said. “I also suspect a relationship between blast injury and higher-level visual processing impairments related to tracking objects, focusing and reading, and passively monitoring the surrounding ambient environment. It is important not to extrapolate these findings of blast injury effects in a war zone to findings with typical mild brain injury, such as sports concussion, as the mechanisms may be significantly different.
“This report shows yet one more reason to appreciate the significant sacrifices our service members make every day performing their duty,” he added.
Click here to read more about the report.
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 900 inpatients, 575 day program patients and more than 7,100 outpatients each year.