Comparing the Neuropsychological Test Performance of Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) Veterans with and without Blast Exposure, Mild Traumatic Brain Injury, and Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms

Daniel Storzbach, Maya Elin O'Neil, Saw Myo Roost, Halina Kowalski, Grant L. Iverson, Laurence M. Binder, Jesse R. Fann, Marilyn Huckans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Scopus citations

Abstract

To compare neuropsychological test performance of Veterans with and without mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), blast exposure, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. We compared the neuropsychological test performance of 49 Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) Veterans diagnosed with MTBI resulting from combat blast-exposure to that of 20 blast-exposed OEF/OIF Veterans without history of MTBI, 23 OEF/OIF Veterans with no blast exposure or MTBI history, and 40 matched civilian controls. Comparison of neuropsychological test performance across all four participant groups showed a complex pattern of mixed significant and mostly nonsignificant results, with omnibus tests significant for measures of attention, spatial abilities, and executive function. The most consistent pattern was the absence of significant differences between blast-exposed Veterans with MTBI history and blast-exposed Veterans without MTBI history. When blast-exposed Veteran groups with and without MTBI history were aggregated and compared to non-blast-exposed Veterans, there were significant differences for some measures of learning and memory, spatial abilities, and executive function. However, covariation for severity of PTSD symptoms eliminated all significant omnibus neuropsychological differences between Veteran groups. Our results suggest that, although some mild neurocognitive effects were associated with blast exposure, these neurocognitive effects might be better explained by PTSD symptom severity rather than blast exposure or MTBI history alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-363
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society
Volume21
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 30 2015

Keywords

  • Blast injuries
  • Brain injuries
  • Cognitive symptoms
  • Combat disorders
  • Explosions
  • Military personnel
  • Post-traumatic
  • Stress disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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