Examination of Traumatic Brain Injury Exposure Among Veterans With Spinal Cord Injury

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Objective: The authors investigated lifetime exposure to traumatic brain injury (TBI) among veterans with spinal cord injury (SCI) in order to describe outcome differences as a function of self-reported TBI history. Design: Cross sectional study, veterans with SCI (N = 857) completed the Ohio State University TBI Identification interview method (OSU-TBI); Veterans RAND 36-Item Health Survey (VR-36); Quick Inventory for Depressive Symptomatology, Self-Report (QIDS-SR); Patient Health Questionnaire-9; Satisfaction with Life Scale; Craig Handicap Assessment and Reporting Technique (CHART; along with clinician-rated Functional Independence Measure (FIM) Total, Motor, and Cognitive scores. Results: Probable TBI exposure was described by 77.6% of participants, with 38% reporting sustaining more than one injury. Self-reported TBIs classified as moderate/severe comprised 49.5% of injuries. Participants with self-reported TBI obtained significantly lower scores on the FIM-Cognitive and CHART Cognitive Independence scales and reported more alcohol use. A history of multiple TBIs was additionally associated with lower mental well-being on the VR-36. Conclusions: These findings highlight the need to consider more than co-occurring injuries and the potential utility of the OSU-TBI for this purpose. Recognizing lifetime exposure to TBI among veterans with SCI may help identify those with broader impairments and enhance the rehabilitation process.

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