Military to study head injuries among Vietnam vets

National Naval Medical Center leaders announced in May that the hospital is the site for a 30-year post-injury follow-up study to determine the long-term effects of a traumatic brain injury sustained in combat in Vietnam veterans. The Vietnam Head Injury Study (VHIS) Phase III is being used to determine the long-term effects of head injuries on general cognition, memory, and long-term neurological, psychological and social functioning.

From U.S. Department of Defense:
Navy Hospital Announces New Phase in Vietnam Head Injuries Study

National Naval Medical Center leaders announced in May that the hospital is the site for a 30-year post-injury follow-up study to determine the long-term effects of a traumatic brain injury sustained in combat in Vietnam veterans.

The Vietnam Head Injury Study (VHIS) Phase III is being used to determine the long-term effects of head injuries on general cognition, memory, and long-term neurological, psychological and social functioning.

Experts hope the study will help establish how memory and cognition may decline in an aging head-injured population. Doctors also expect to better examine the role of the frontal lobes of the brain in social cognition and complex thinking, such as reasoning and planning.

”The VHIS has, in some cases, single-handedly been the reason for better care and benefits for veterans,” said Jordan Grafman, Ph.D., the principal investigator for VHIS and chief of cognitive neuroscience at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.

The distinguishing factor between this new study and other head injury studies is that all registrants for VHIS were healthy and employed pre-injury. All participants have Armed Forces Qualifications Test scores, which indicate prior levels of intelligence and functioning.

”As long as there are conflicts, [head injuries] will be an issue, and if what we do can help future generations of veterans, then we have accomplished one of our major goals,” said Grafman.

According to Grafman, VHIS is one of the longest-running neurobehavorial studies ever to be conducted. The study began with a Phase I in 1974 and included more than 1,000 participants.

The current Phase III study will be conducted over the next three years.

For related news, visit the Naval Medicine Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/mednews.

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