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For Iraq veterans headaches continue following traumatic brain injury

Consumer Reports News: May 01, 2009 04:19 PM

A study conducted at Fort Lewis, WA, and presented this week at the American Academy of Neurology’s 61st annual meeting in Seattle reports that many soldiers who experienced mild head trauma or blast exposure while serving in active combat are returning to the United States with headaches. The study involved 978 US Army soldiers returning from Iraq or Afghanistan in 2008 who had experienced a concussion, head injury or blast exposure while deployed.

Nearly 98 percent of the soldiers reported having headaches during the last three months of their service. Thirty-seven percent of the soldiers stated that their headaches began within one week of the traumatic brain injury (TBI); of these 60 percent had migraine-like headaches and 40 percent had headaches which interfered with their ability to do daily activities. Thirty percent had headaches for 15 or more days each month.

According to study author Captain Brett J. Theeler, MD, of Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, WA, mild traumatic brain injury occurs in 15 to 25 percent of soldiers deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan. He discusses the need to identify and properly treat headaches in an interview (above) with Orly Avitzur, MD, Medical Adviser, Consumers Union.

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