Research Reports - Evaluation of cortical thickness following traumatic brain injury

J Neurotrauma. 2015 Jul 1

Michael AP(1), Stout J(2), Roskos PT(3), Bolzenius J(4), Mogul D(5), Gfeller
J(6), Bucholz R(7)

Military service members frequently sustain traumatic brain injuries (TBI) while
on active duty, a majority of which are related to explosive blasts and are mild
in severity. Studies evaluating the cortical gray matter in individuals with
injuries of this nature remain scarce. The purpose of this study was to assess
cortical thickness in a sample of military veterans with chronic blast-related
TBI. Thirty-eight veterans with mild TBI and 17 veterans with moderate TBI were
compared to 58 demographically matched healthy civilians. All veterans with TBI
sustained injuries related to a blast and were between 5 and 120 months
post-injury (M = 62.08). Measures of PTSD and depression were administered, along
with a battery of neuropsychological tests to assess cognition. The Freesurfer
software package was used to calculate cortical thickness of the participants.
Results demonstrated significant clusters of cortical thinning in the right
hemispheric insula and inferior portions of the temporal and frontal lobe in both
mild and moderate TBI participants. The TBI sample from this study demonstrated a
high incidence of comorbid PTSD and depression symptoms, which is consistent with
the prior literature. Cortical thickness values correlated with measures of PTSD,
depression, and post-concussive symptoms. This study provides evidence of
cortical thinning in the context of chronic blast-related mild and moderate TBI
in military veterans who have co-morbid psychiatric symptoms. Our findings
provide important insight into the natural progression of long-term cortical
change in this population and may have implications for future clinical
evaluation and treatment.

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