Institution: Duke University
Exposure to explosive forces and blast injuries are the major cause of military related mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI). However, blast exposure does not always imply a clinical diagnosis of TBI, which must meet certain minimal criteria including altered sensorium (e.g., feeling dazed and confused), loss of consciousness (LOC), and amnesia. Individuals exposed to blast but who are subconcussive and do not meet the criteria for mTBI, still often undergo chronic symptoms – in the absence of an acute diagnosis of TBI, they may be diagnosed with neuropsychiatric conditions. White matter damage is a prominent consequence of mTBI (Lepage 2017, Dennis 2017), but it is still unclear if subconcussive trauma also leads to a similar diffuse pattern of white matter damage; if so, those with exposure to “subconcussive” blasts may experience an immediate impact on their brain network and connectivity pattern. Understanding these effects should help us identify individuals who may otherwise be misdiagnosed with conditions such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder at a later chronic stage of symptoms. This project also will assess brain connectivity in civilian cases of subconcussive trauma, including sports injuries.