Postural control and stress reactivity were investigated in active duty coast guard personnel to determine whether they are sensitive to lifetime effects of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). A custom-designed and validated virtual reality-based computerized posturography device was used to assess postural stability, whereas emotional reactivity was assessed using the acoustic startle response (ASR), and neurocognitive performance was assessed using the defense-automated neurobehavioral assessment (DANA). It was hypothesized that residual and subtle postural control imbalance and deficits in cognitive and sensory reactivity would be evident in those reporting multiple lifetime mTBI. Active duty military personnel (N = 36; 7 females and 29 males) with no Deployment Limiting Medical Condition were recruited and tested on all assessments. Medical history information provided a history of head injury. Thirty-nine percent of participants reported having a previous mTBI (nine reporting one and five reporting more than one incident). No participant had experienced a head injury within the past year and all were symptom free. A significant effect of number of mTBI was found in the postural assessment (p = 0.002). Lifetime mTBI was associated with suppressed ASR magnitude (p = 0.03) but did not affect neurocognitive performance. The current findings provide new insight into ongoing controversies concerning sensitivity to functional deficits following mTBI and when the window for treatment or restoration ends.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- acoustic startle reflex
- mild TBI