Traumatic brain injury in u.s. army paratroopers; prevalence and character

Brian J. Ivins*, Karen A. Schwab, Deborah Warden, Ltc Sally Harvey, Maj Michael Hoilien, Col John Powell, Csm E.Wayne Johnson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Background This study presents self-reported traumatic brain injury (TBI) prevalence rates for 2,337 active duty U.S. Army soldiers who underwent baseline testing as part of a larger study of military TBI. Methods A computerized self-report questionnaire was administered to a convenience sample of 2,337 highly functioning active-duty soldiers at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, who underwent baseline testing during a 13-month period in 1999 and 2000 as part of a larger ongoing Institutional Review Board-approved study examining the consequences of brain injuries among paratroopers. Results Approximately 23% of all of the soldiers surveyed reported sustaining a TBI after joining the Army. More than twice as many paratroopers reported sustaining TBI after joining the Army than did nonparatroopers (p < 0.001). Parachute-related TBI accounted for this difference. Nearly all of these injuries were mild. Less than 2% of paratroopers and no nonparatroopers reported loss of consciousness lasting more than 20 minutes. It was also shown that paratroopers with a history of TBI before joining the Army had a higher prevalence of TBI while serving in the Army (35%) than paratroopers without prior TBI (27.2%) (p = 0.002). Conclusion This study demonstrates that parachuting appears to be a risk factor for mild TBI in the U.S. Army and that paratroopers with a history of TBI before joining the Army might be at somewhat increased risk of sustaining additional TBI while serving in the Army.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)617-621
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain injury
  • Head injury
  • Parachuting
  • U.S. Army


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