Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

DVBIC blood plasma study assists in TBI and PTSD diagnosis

Image of Air Force Senior Airman Kristen N. Kelsey, a medical laboratory technician with the 514th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Air Force Reserve Command, labels blood samples at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mark Olsen). Air Force Senior Airman Kristen N. Kelsey, a medical laboratory technician with the 514th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Air Force Reserve Command, labels blood samples at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mark Olsen)

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence

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...

One Airmans Recovery from TBI

Video
3/28/2022
One Airmans Recovery from TBI

After a motorcycle accident, Master Sergeant Stalnaker started having symptoms of traumatic brain injury, or TBI. He tells his story about his symptoms and his road to recovery from physical and emotional wounds as a result.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury

One Airman's Recovery from TBI

Video
3/9/2022
One Airman's Recovery from TBI

After a motorcycle accident, Master Sergeant Stalnaker started having symptoms of traumatic brain injury, or TBI. He tells his story about his symptoms and his road to recovery from physical and emotional wounds as a result. If you’re experiencing symptoms of TBI, visit health.mil/TBI to learn about the resources available to you.

Recommended Content:

Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Traumatic Brain Injury | Brain Injury Awareness Month

A Retired Navy SEAL Discusses his TBI

Video
3/9/2022
A Retired Navy SEAL Discusses his TBI

Retired Navy SEAL Edward Rasmussen discusses his TBI, and urges others to seek treatment if they have symptoms. If you’re experiencing symptoms of TBI, visit health.mil/TBI to learn about the resources available to you.

Recommended Content:

Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Traumatic Brain Injury | Brain Injury Awareness Month

TBI Prevention

Video
2/9/2022
TBI Prevention

It is important for everyone to remember that we only have one brain. That means taking the necessary to protect your brain when engaging in sports, driving, or during exercises while on-duty.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury

PRA Training Video 6: The Return to Duty Screening

Video
7/22/2021
PRA Training Video 6: The Return to Duty Screening

In this lesson, we cover how to perform the Return to Duty, or RTD screening, which now includes both vestibular/physical and neurocognitive examinations. The purpose of the RTD screening is to objectively measure whether a service member is ready for return to full duty. Each video in the Progressive Return to Activity training series is designed to support primary care providers' ability to manage concussion/traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Provider Resources | Provider Education | Traumatic Brain Injury

PRA Training Video 8: Clinical Case Scenario

Video
7/22/2021
PRA Training Video 8: Clinical Case Scenario

This is an interactive clinical case scenario to test your understanding in applying the Progressive Return to Activity (PRA). We hope this will help medical providers become more familiar with the PRA process when treating service members with concussion. Each video in the PRA training series is designed to support primary care providers' ability to manage concussion/traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Provider Resources | Provider Education | Traumatic Brain Injury

PRA Training Video 3: Understanding Relative Rest

Video
7/22/2021
PRA Training Video 3: Understanding Relative Rest

In this lesson we explain the differences between complete rest and relative rest in a staged concussion recovery process, and provide examples of activities that promote relative rest. The revised Progressive Return to Activity (PRA) Clinical Recommendation uses the term 'relative rest' to emphasize the importance of early introduction of physical and cognitive activities that do not provoke symptoms following TBI. Each video in the PRA training series is designed to support primary care providers' ability to manage concussion/traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Provider Resources | Provider Education | Traumatic Brain Injury

PRA Training Video 7: Symptom-Guided Management and Specialty Referral Guidance Tables

Video
7/22/2021
PRA Training Video 7: Symptom-Guided Management and Specialty Referral Guidance Tables

This lesson covers how to use the Progressive Return to Activity, or PRA's Symptom-Guided Management and Specialty Referral Guidance tables. This lesson also details primary care management strategies for service members who are not progressing as expected in the PRA. Each video in the Progressive Return to Activity training series is designed to support primary care providers' ability to manage concussion/traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Provider Resources | Provider Education | Traumatic Brain Injury

PRA Training Video 1: PRA Overview

Video
7/22/2021
PRA Training Video 1: PRA Overview

In the first of TBICoE's Progressive Return to Activity (PRA) video training series, you will learn about the reasons for using a progressive return to activity process and receive an overview of the 2021 PRA algorithm and its associated tools. By the end of lesson one, providers will better understand the PRA process, and explain that process to service members diagnosed with concussion. Each video in the PRA training series is designed to support primary care providers' ability to manage concussion/traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Provider Resources | Provider Education | Traumatic Brain Injury

PRA Training Video 2: Six Major Changes

Video
7/22/2021
PRA Training Video 2: Six Major Changes

In this lesson we review the six major changes in the TBICoE's revised 2021 Progressive Return to Activity (PRA) Clinical Recommendation that differ from the original recommendation. The changes reflect the latest TBI research, and will make it easier for providers to manage the recovery process and return service members with concussion to full duty as quickly and safely as possible. Each video in the PRA training series is designed to support primary care providers' ability to manage concussion/traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Provider Resources | Provider Education | Traumatic Brain Injury

PRA Training Video 5: The Six Stages of the PRA

Video
7/22/2021
PRA Training Video 5: The Six Stages of the PRA

In this lesson, we cover the key activity objectives for each of the six stages of the Progressive Return to Activity (PRA) Clinical Recommendation and provide activity examples for each stage. Each stage is designed to gradually increase the intensity and duration of a service member's physical and cognitive activity as they advance in the PRA process. Each video in the PRA training series is designed to support primary care providers' ability to manage concussion/traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Provider Resources | Provider Education | Traumatic Brain Injury

PRA Training Video 4: PRA Progression Criteria

Video
7/22/2021
PRA Training Video 4: PRA Progression Criteria

In this lesson, we review the criteria for advancing through the stages of the Progressive Return to Activity (PRA) Clinical Recommendation. Each video in the PRA training series is designed to support primary care providers' ability to manage concussion/traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Provider Resources | Provider Education | Traumatic Brain Injury

MHS Minute March 2021

Video
4/1/2021
MHS Minute March 2021

March marked Brain Injury Awareness month in the military. We're spotlighting efforts across the MHS to combat Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and better understand how TBI impacts our Service members. For more information about the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE), go to walterreed.tricare.mil/NICoE For more info on the Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence (TBICoE), go to Health.mil/TBICoE

Recommended Content:

Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Traumatic Brain Injury | The National Intrepid Center of Excellence

Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness

Video
3/8/2021
Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness

A TBI is a blow or jolt to the brain that can be life-altering if the symptoms are not recognized. If you or a loved one experience the symptoms mentioned in this video, speak to a health care professional for more information.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Brain Injury Awareness Month | Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness

Progressive Return to Activity After Concussion Video

Video
2/25/2021
Progressive Return to Activity After Concussion Video

The PRA is an evidence-based, easy-to-use approach to help providers return service members with mild TBIs back to duty safely. TBICoE researchers have found that, if medical providers completed a two-hour, in-person training on the use of the PRA, their patients saw an overall reduction in symptoms after one week, one month, and three months, when compared to patients treated by providers who had not received the training.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Provider Resources | TBI Educators | Traumatic Brain Injury | Brain Injury Awareness Month | TBI Resources | TBI Screening
<< < 1 2 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 2
Refine your search
Last Updated: October 08, 2020

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.