Year of Publication

2013

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. David T. R. Berry

Abstract

Veterans of the Iraqi and Afghanistan conflicts have frequently returned with injuries such as mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). More recently, concern has been raised about the large number of returning soldiers who are diagnosed with both. Literature exists on the neuropsychological factors associated with either alone, however far less research has explored the effects when combined (PTSD+mTBI). With a sample of 206 OEF/OIF veterans, the current study employed neuropsychological and psychological measures to determine whether participants with PTSD+mTBI have poorer cognitive and psychological outcomes than participants with PTSD-o, mTBI-o, or veteran controls (VC), when groups are matched on IQ, education, and age. The PTSD+mTBI and mTBI-o groups exhibited very similar neuropsychology profiles, and both PTSD+mTBI and mTBI-o performed significantly (α=.01) worse than VC on executive functioning and processing speed measures. There were no significant differences between VC and PTSD-o on any notable neuropsychology measures. In contrast, on the psychological measures, the PTSD+mTBI and PTSD-o groups were identical to each other and more distressed than either mTBI-o or VC. These findings suggest there are lasting cognitive impairments following mTBI that are unique to the condition and cannot be attributed to known impairments associated with distress.

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