Results of a study conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs and pharmaceutical company Avanair showed that 60-percent of all vets suffering from traumatic brain injury also display signs of pseudobulbar affect (PBA), a neurological condition characterized by extreme emotional responses.
Researchers contacted 4,283 veterans in the New England area; the VA diagnosed all at some point with TBI, likely occurring from combat or explosion. About 20 percent of the group responded, with 60 percent of this amount displaying symptoms of PBA, such as inadvertent, unmanageable crying or laughter.
The full results come out on Friday, but researchers announcing pointed out that the findings were higher than expected. Regina McGlinchey, director of the Translational Research Center for TBI and Stress Disorders at a VA hospital in Boston, explained in a statement: “This is not a psychiatric issue. It’s a neurological issue. The debilitating part is that those outbursts can really occur in socially inappropriate times. It’s very difficult on families and obviously on the patients themselves…It just gives us another piece of the puzzle and helps us understand a little bit better the range of problems the TBI cohort has.”
2014 has seen more research concerning TBI and veterans, ultimately to assist with better diagnoses and greater understanding of the physical ramifications blasts and other trauma have on the brain.
Although results examine a comorbid condition, the latest study reflects symptoms TBI patients may experience over time: increased frustration or anxiety, impulsive and aggressive behavior, and permanent emotional and mental changes. As a closed head injury may not be evident after an incident, which may be as simple as a fall, these and other symptoms, such as a coma, memory loss, lack of bowel control, depression, and beginning epilepsy, point to a potential TBI.