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Cognitive sequelae of blast-related versus other mechanisms of brain trauma

  • HEATHER G. BELANGER (a1) (a2) (a3), TRACY KRETZMER (a1), RUTH YOASH-GANTZ (a4) (a5) (a6), TREVEN PICKETT (a3) (a4) (a7) (a8) and LARRY A. TUPLER (a4) (a9)...

The use of improvised explosive devices has become the hallmark of modern warfare and has resulted in an ever-increasing number of blast-related traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Despite this fact, very little is actually known about the cognitive sequelae of blast-related TBIs. The purpose of the current study was to compare patterns of performance on neuropsychological measures in subjects who have sustained TBIs as a result of blast (or explosion) with those who have sustained TBIs from non-blast or blunt force trauma (motor vehicle accident, fall, assault, etc.). Participants were categorized as blast-related TBI or non-blast-related TBI and according to severity of injury (mild or moderate-to-severe). No main effects were observed in analysis of covariance between blast-related TBI participants and non-blast-related TBI participants across any of the neuropsychological variables, although an interaction was observed on a visual memory test showing stronger performance for mild blast-related and poorer performance for moderate-to-severe blast-related participants compared with both non-blast groups. Overall, the results do not provide any strong evidence that blast is categorically different from other TBI mechanisms, at least with regard to cognitive sequelae on select measures. Additional findings included a marginally increased incidence of reported posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms among blast-injured participants. (JINS, 2009, 15, 1–8.)

Corresponding author
*Correspondence and reprint requests to: Heather G. Belanger, James A. Haley Veterans Hospital Psychology Service, 116B 13000 Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, Tampa, Florida 33612. E-mail:
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