LOS ANGELES—Among US soldiers returning from deployment, 29% of those with mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) had migraine, and 12% of those without TBI had migraine, according to data presented at the 54th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Headache Society. “This rate is considerably higher than you would generally find in a young male population,” said Ann I. Scher, PhD, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Maryland.
Among returning soldiers with migraine, 36% of those with TBI reported visual auralike symptoms, compared with 20% of those without TBI. Dr. Scher and her colleagues considered many of the auras typical, because they had a gradual onset and lasted for the appropriate amount of time (ie, 5 to 60 minutes). Most soldiers’ auras were atypical, however, either because they did not meet these criteria or soldiers were not certain whether they did.
An Ongoing Study of Soldiers With and Without TBI
These epidemiologic data are preliminary results from an ongoing study that Dr. Scher and her colleagues are conducting. The researchers plan to recruit 1,500 soldiers returning from deployment, including 750 who screen positive for mild TBI and 750 who screen negative. To screen positive for TBI, a soldier must report a relevant injury that resulted in an alteration of consciousness, such as momentary confusion. Soldiers will be enrolled at Fort Bragg and Fort Carson.
Dr. Scher presented data for 174 soldiers with mild TBI and 202 controls, all enrolled at Fort Carson. “None of these soldiers was medically evacuated, so these are all mild injuries,” she said. Headaches were assessed with a self-administered questionnaire adapted from one developed by Richard Lipton, MD, Professor of Neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York, and Walter F. Stewart, PhD, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Participants also completed the Chronic Pain Grade questionnaire developed by Michael von Korff, ScD, Senior Investigator at Group Health Research Institute in Seattle. The investigators are conducting three-month, six-month, and one-year follow-ups.