Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a prevalent, serious health problem with potentially long-lasting effects. Each year in the United States, 1.7 million people sustain a TBI that requires medical attention. Wars in the Middle East have led to more than 250,000 brain injuries among members of the military since 2000. Worldwide, TBI is the leading cause of chronic disability among young adults and children. Post-traumatic headache (PTH) is the most frequent symptom after a TBI.

While most individuals who experience a mild traumatic brain injury recover fully, about 15% will suffer long-term neurological issues, including headache. Currently, computed tomography CT scans are used to assess such injuries, but a recent study reveals that magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) may be the more effective tool for predicting long-term outcomes.

Headache after a traumatic brain injury is more common than previously understood, according to a recent study reported in the Journal of Neurotrauma. In the first year after injury, 71% percent of study participants reported headache, much higher than earlier studies have found. The findings were particularly pronounced for women, with 74% reporting headache in that year compared to 63% of men.

Combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with longer-term emotional, cognitive and physical symptoms, including headache. Surprisingly, according to the Archives of General Psychiatry, concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury, experienced by soldiers does not appear to have the same long-lasting negative effects. Previous studies have shown that soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan have nearly double the rates of migraine compared to the general population, as well as higher incidences of PTSD, depression and anxiety.

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