Skip to main content

Military Health System

Important Notice about Pharmacy Operations

Change Healthcare Cyberattack Impact on MHS Pharmacy Operations. Read the statement to learn more. 

DVBIC blood plasma study assists in TBI and PTSD diagnosis

Image of DVBIC blood plasma study assists in TBI and PTSD diagnosis. DVBIC blood plasma study assists in TBI and PTSD diagnosis

For many years, researchers have looked for objective measures to help diagnose traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorders.

Information from the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center’s 15-year natural history study is assisting medical researchers in determining whether a protein found in a patient’s blood could be a promising candidate for future diagnostic tools.

A blow to the head is one of the ways a service members can sustain a TBI, and after witnessing psychologically disturbing events, they may also experience PTSD. Diagnosing these can be complex as they have similar symptoms that can be compounded when both are present.

Since 2000, more than 400,000 active-duty service members have been diagnosed with TBI, according to figures from DVBIC, the Department Department’s center of excellence for traumatic brain injury and a division of the Defense Health Agency Research and Development Directorate. However, a statistic revealing those co-presenting with PTSD has not been compiled.

In a 2018 research review on mild TBI (mTBI) and PTSD, the DVBIC noted that “differential diagnosis will likely continue to be a challenge.

Jessica Gill, a researcher at the National Institutes of Health, and Dr. Kimbra Kenney, an associate professor of neurology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, both located in Bethesda, Maryland, are currently examining patients’ blood to see whether it can help in diagnosing and treating TBI.

“By pairing advances in the laboratory we are now able to detect very small proteins in the blood that provide key insights into pathology that contribute to long-term symptoms in military personnel and veterans with TBIs, as well with PTSDs,” said Gill.

At a recent conference, Kenney explained how specific types of blood proteins were significantly elevated among those with concussions, compared to subjects who had been deployed but not sustained TBIs. Blood samples are being collected at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center as part of their research in a study of the natural history of TBI funded by the DOD and Department of Veterans Affairs.

In another project using data from the 15-year natural history study, researchers are examining blood proteins in subjects who had both sustained a TBI and reported PTSD symptoms. Earlier studies had shown that tau and amyloid-beta-42 proteins indicated the presence of TBI; now researchers believe the presence of both proteins could reveal individuals with both TBI and PTSD.

Study participants consisted of 107 service members. Evidence of TBI was obtained from medical records and interviews at Walter Reed Bethesda. Most participants were diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury while the remaining subjects experienced an injury unrelated to TBI but did not lose consciousness. Each participant provided a blood sample and completed a detailed questionnaire. Three groups were formed: those with both TBI and PTSD; those with some other injury and no PTSD; and those with TBI but no PTSD.

The researchers found “tau in plasma is significantly elevated in military personnel who have sustained an mTBI and display concurrent PTSD symptomology.” This finding agrees with earlier civilian studies. Following a TBI, tau elevations are associated with poor recoveries and greater neurological problems.

These studies may show relationships between neurological outcomes and changes at the molecular level. “The novel design of the 15-year study provides the first longitudinal data to untangle complex pathological processes that result in lasting neurological and psychological symptoms and impairments,” Gill said. “By better understanding these processes, we can personalize the care we provide to treat military personnel and veterans to have the biggest impact on their health and well-being.”


You also may be interested in...

Publication
Feb 23, 2024

Assessment and Management of Dizziness and Visual Disturbances Following Concussion/Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

.PDF | 1.03 MB

This clinical recommendation provides medical staff with a single, comprehensive reference for the assessment and management of dizziness and visual disturbances following mild TBI/concussion. Dizziness and visual disturbances often present with overlapping symptoms and should prompt a provider to perform a visual and dizziness—or vestibular—assessment.

Publication
Feb 23, 2024

Progressive Return to Activity: Primary Care for Acute Concussion Management

.PDF | 472.50 KB

This clinical recommendation is an evidence-based return to activity protocol for primary care managers and concussion/traumatic brain injury clinic providers. The PRA is a six-step approach that begins after the provider performs the MACE 2 (Military Acute Concussion Evaluation 2) and the patient is diagnosed with a concussion, also known as a mild TBI.

Report
Feb 22, 2024

2000-2023 Q3 DOD Worldwide Numbers for TBI

.PDF | 1.47 MB

TBICoE is the Defense Department’s office of responsibility for tracking traumatic brain injury data in the U.S. military. Here you’ll find data on the number of active-duty service members—anywhere U.S. forces are located—with a first-time TBI diagnosis from calendar year 2000 through the third quarter of calendar year 2023. The data is also broken ...

Report
Feb 22, 2024

2023 Q3 DOD Worldwide Numbers for TBI

.PDF | 1.29 MB

TBICoE is the Defense Department’s office of responsibility for tracking traumatic brain injury data in the U.S. military. Here you’ll find data on the number of active-duty service members—anywhere U.S. forces are located—with a first-time TBI diagnosis in the third quarter of calendar year 2023. The data is also broken down by each branch of the ...

Report
Feb 22, 2024

2022 DOD Worldwide Numbers for TBI

.PDF | 1.19 MB

TBICoE is the Defense Department’s office of responsibility for tracking traumatic brain injury data in the U.S. military. Here you’ll find data on the number of active-duty service members—anywhere U.S. forces are located—with a first-time TBI diagnosis in the calendar year 2022. The data is also broken down by each branch of the armed services.

Calendar Event
Feb 16, 2024

Virtual Reality, "Walk and Talk" Therapy, and Reconsolidation of Traumatic Memories: How Novel Interventions Can Improve the Care of Post-traumatic Stress

A NICOE educational offering with a guest speaker on Virtual Reality, "Walk and Talk" Therapy, and Reconsolidation of Traumatic Memories - part of 2024 BIAM event lineup.

Infographic
Feb 8, 2024

Brain Injury Awareness Month: Infographic

Brain Injury Awareness Month infographic, visit health.mil/BIAMonth.

Even a mild traumatic brain injury can impact mission readiness and the ability to deploy. #BeABrainWarrior by understanding the signs and symptoms of TBI and knowing when to seek care. TBI is treatable and recovery is possible. https://health.mil/BIAMonth #BIAMonth

Article Around MHS
Feb 5, 2024

U.S. Army Medical Research & Development Command Supports Development of Blast Injury Prevention Standard

 Researchers from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research used data collected during live fire training exercises to create accurate 3D simulations of blast overpressure exposures on virtual weapons crews to help training range managers, range safety officers and instructors position personnel to minimize their exposure to shock waves created by the firing of heavy weapons. The color coding indicates the blast pressure intensity as the wave expands and dissipates.

A new tool being developed by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command’s DOD Blast Injury Research Coordinating Office will help Service Members protect themselves from the effects of high-pressure shock waves created by heavy weapons when they are fired during training.

Video
Jan 31, 2024

Be a Brain Warrior: Protect. Treat. Optimize.

Be a Brain Warrior: Protect. Treat. Optimize.

The Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence is championing the theme 'Be a Brain Warrior: Protect, Treat, Optimize' during Brain Injury Awareness Month. The theme showcases the idea that service members, veterans, healthcare providers, caregivers, family members, and advocates can be warriors for brain health. Visit health.mil/BIAMonth to learn more.

Video
Jan 29, 2024

TBI Testimonials: Dalton Mask

TBI Testimonials: Dalton Mask

Dalton was on his way to his biggest challenge in his military career: Army Ranger School. He had been training for several months, running 20 miles per week, and working out three times a day. As he was setting up a TV in his room, he had a seizure and fell, hitting his head on the side of his bed — resulting in a concussion, or a mild traumatic ...

Video
Jan 29, 2024

TBI Testimonials: Roxana Delgado & Victor Medina

TBI Testimonials: Roxana Delgado & Victor Medina

While he was deployed, retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Victor Medina was in a vehicle that was hit by an explosive device. He sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that severely impaired some of his physical functions and ability to speak. Medina’s wife, Roxana Delgado, continued her pursuit of a Ph.D. in health sciences and became his caregiver. As ...

Last Updated: September 01, 2022
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on X Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery