Staying in service with posttraumatic headache: A retrospective cohort study of patient outcome

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Abstract

Objective:

To predict the probability of a military outcome (medical discharge/retirement) in patients with mild traumatic brain injury from a clinical analysis of predetermined patient and headache characteristics.

Methods:

This retrospective cohort study sampled all new patients referred for headache evaluation at the Brain Injury Clinic of the Womack Army Medical Center, Ft. Bragg, NC (August 2008–January 2010). Headache characteristics were extracted and analyzed. Multivariable binary logistic regressions were conducted to predict probability of medical discharge/retirement.

Results:

Ninety-five soldiers (age 31.3 ± 7.4 years, male 93.7%) reported 166 headaches. The most common injury cited was a blast (53.7%). Patients with a continuous headache have almost 4 times the odds of a medically related discharge/retirement compared to patients without such a headache (continuous headache regression coefficient estimate: p < 0.042, odds ratio 3.98, 95% Wald confidence interval 1.05–15.07). Results suggest that, compared to service members who did not have a continuous headache, patients with headache histories with severe holocephalic pain who medicate to keep functioning had the highest probability of medical discharge/retirement.

Conclusions:

Certain headache characteristics may be predictive of military outcomes after mild traumatic brain injury, and we propose a profile that may be useful in that prediction. These data could be useful in future attempts to assess and treat patients with posttraumatic headache and to advise longer-term planning for return to duty or discharge.

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