Background: Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and its potential long-term consequences is a primary concern for the US military. The purpose of the study is to evaluate if participants improved in anxiety/mood symptoms, sleep quality, and vestibular/ocular symptoms following a 6-month active intervention, and to explore the effect of targeted treatment for those with specific symptoms/impairments (e.g., psychological, sleep, ocular, vestibular). Materials and Methods: A multidisciplinary clinical team adjudicated participants (n=72, 35.8±8.6 years old, 19% female) to have one of the following primary clinical trajectories: psychological (PSYCH; n=34), sleep (SLEEP; n=25) and vestibular/ocular (VESTIB/OCULAR; n=18). Participants returned for follow-up assessment 6 months later. Assessments included the Post-Concussion Symptom Scale [PCSS], Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 [GAD-7], Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index [PSQI], and Dizziness Handicap Inventory [DHI]. Change in concussion symptoms and primary outcome for the given trajectory (i.e., PSYCH=GAD-7, SLEEP=PSQI, VESTIB/OCULAR=DHI) was assessed. Results: Following the 6-month intervention, participants reduced PCSS Score (-14.5±2.4; p<.001; η2=0.34), GAD-7 (-3.1±0.5; p<.001; η2=0.34), PSQI (-2.7±0.5; p<.001; η2=0.34) and DHI (-9.2±2.0; p<.001; η2=0.23). PSYCH (n=34) reduced PCSS score (-17.9±3.6; p<.001; η2=0.45) and GAD-7 (-3.1±0.7; p<.001; η2=0.38). SLEEP (n=25) reduced PCSS score (-8.8±4.4; p=.06; η2=0.15) and PSQI (-3.6±0.9; p<.001; η2=0.45) scores. VESTIB/OCULAR (n=18) reduced PCSS score (-16.7±4.8; p=.03; η2=0.45), and DHI (-15.7±5.5; p=.012; η2=0.35). Conclusions: Large effects were observed for concussion, anxiety, sleep, and dizziness symptom reduction over 6-month treatment. Each primary outcome demonstrated a larger treatment effect for the given trajectory than the overall sample, indicating that targeted treatment can reduce symptom burden in patients with mTBI with chronic symptoms.
Background: Studies have highlighted the incidence and prevalence of chronic pain, which is an epidemic problem in all career sectors, as well as estimated the economic loss that follows its pathology. Several studies have indicated a high incidence of chronic osteoarticular pain in military service members, particularly in flight personnel. To date, no studies have estimated the incidence of pain pathology in the Italian military population, despite the implications related to flight qualification. Methods: A survey was conducted on helicopter flight personnel undergoing periodic annual evaluation. Results: A statistically significantly higher incidence of pain pathology than that reported in the global civilian population was demonstrated. More than 80% of the interviewed population reported moderate-to-severe back pain (45% in the lumbar tract and 38% in the cervical tract). Further, it was found that most staff with chronic pain do not use drugs or other treatments for severe pain because of concerns that such treatment approaches may compromise flight qualifications. Discussion: The present study observed a high incidence of pain in Italian military flight personnel and examined the degree to which this problem is undertreated in these individuals. To address this problem, further in-depth and larger investigations that include therapeutic protocols to resolve such pain pathologies should be conducted. Such investigations could help to reduce pain experienced by flight personnel and enhance the productivity of the Italian military forces while considering the pharmacologic limitations related to the task. Conclusion: Chronic lumbar and neck pain is more common in military helicopter crews than in the civilian population. The true figure is frequently underestimated because of staff concerns regarding the potential influence of therapies on work activity.