Up to a fifth of U.S. service members who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have come home with a blast-related concussion or post-traumatic stress disorder — or both.
A study published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Psychiatry helps detail the relationship between the two conditions.
Marines who suffered mild traumatic brain injuries while deployed were roughly twice as likely to get PTSD, researchers found.
One likely explanation is that the bomb blasts, the most common cause of brain injuries during the wars, are psychologically traumatizing as well.
In addition, structural changes in the brain after a head injury may increase the likelihood of developing PTSD and decrease the chances of recovery, said Dr. Dewleen Baker, a co-author of the study and research director at the Veterans Affairs Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental Health in San Diego.
The study followed 1,648 Marines from four battalions in Southern California as they deployed to war and returned between 2008 and 2012.