Traumatic Brain Injury Recorded in the UK Joint Theatre Trauma Registry Among the UK Armed Forces

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Abstract

Objectives:

To use the UK Joint Theatre Trauma Registry (UK-JTTR) to identify service personnel sustaining traumatic brain injury (TBI) in recent conflicts and to examine injury characteristics, outcomes, and severity measures predictive of survival.

Setting:

Operations HERRICK (Afghanistan) and TELIC (Iraq).

Design:

The UK-JTTR records data for every UK service person either killed on operations or treated by Defence Medical Services after a trauma call, including those evacuated for inpatient care following traumatic injury. UK-JTTR data were retrospectively analyzed to identify those who sustained TBI.

Main Measures:

The Mayo system was used to define TBI. Glasgow Coma Scale score, injury severity score, new injury severity score, trauma injury severity score, abbreviated injury scale, and a severity characterization of trauma were used to predict survival.

Results:

In total, 464 UK service personnel sustained TBI, representing 19% of the 2440 casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq, recorded in the UK-JTTR. Most TBI casualties had moderate-severe TBI (402, 87%). There were 181 (39%) survivors, 56% of these received neurorehabilitation. Improvised explosive devices accounted for 55% of TBIs sustained in Afghanistan and 31% of TBIs in Iraq. Logistic regression analyses were performed using the 412 cases (149 survivors: 263 fatalities) with scores on all severity measures. The best-fitting model was based on trauma injury severity score. A trauma injury severity score more than 11.13 indicates a more than 95% probability of survival.

Conclusion:

This is the first study of UK combat TBIs between 2003 and 2011. Almost 1 in 5 UK service personnel recorded in the UK-JTTR had TBI; most were moderate-severe. However, mild TBI is likely to be underrepresented in the UK-JTTR. These findings may be used to plan future rehabilitation needs, as almost half the survivors did not receive neurorehabilitation.

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