Effect of concussion and blast exposure on symptoms after military deployment

Jack W. Tsao*, Lauren A. Stentz, Minoo Rouhanian, Robin S. Howard, Briana N. Perry, F. Jay Haran, Paul F. Pasquina, Mikias Wolde, Carolyn E. Taylor, Radhames Lizardo, Scott Liu, Eusebio Flores, Alia H. Creason, Katalina Sher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine whether blast exposure alone and blast-associated concussion result in similar neurologic and mental health symptoms. Methods: A 14-item questionnaire was administered to male US Marines on their return from deployment in Iraq and/or Afghanistan. Results: A total of 2,612 Marines (median age 22 years) completed the survey. Of those, 2,320 (88.9%) reported exposure to ≥1 blast during their current and/or prior deployments. In addition, 1,022 (39.1%) reported ≥1 concussion during the current deployment, and 731 (28.0%) had experienced at least 1 prior lifetime concussion. Marines were more likely to have sustained a concussion during the current deployment if they had a history of 1 (odds ratio [OR] 1.5, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.2-2.0) or ≥1 (OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.7-3.0) prior concussion. The most common symptoms were trouble sleeping (38.4%), irritability (37.9%), tinnitus (33.8%), and headaches (33.3%). Compared to those experiencing blast exposure without injury, Marines either experiencing a concussion during the current deployment or being moved or injured by a blast had an increased risk of postinjury symptoms. Conclusions: There appears to be a continuum of increasing total symptoms from no exposure to blast exposure plus both current deployment concussion and past concussion. Concussion had a greater influence than blast exposure alone on the presence of postdeployment symptoms. A high blast injury score can be used to triage those exposed to explosive blasts for evaluation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2010-2016
Number of pages7
Issue number19
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


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