Chasing the care: soldiers experience following combat-related mild traumatic brain injury.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


One of the most common, yet most difficult to detect injuries sustained by U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan is mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Left untreated, mTBI can negatively impact soldiers' postdeployment adjustment. This research describes the rehabilitation experiences of soldiers with a history of mTBI and their spouses.


Nine soldiers with mTBI and their spouses participated in the study. A total of 27 interviews were conducted exploring couples' post-mTBI rehabilitation experiences. Participants consisted of active duty soldiers with mTBI who had returned from deployment within 2 years, and their civilian spouses. Strauss and Corbin's grounded theory methodology was used to collect and analyze the data.


The majority of the soldiers and spouses who participated (16/18) indicated that uncertain prognosis and symptom management were the greatest challenges of post-mTBI. Other challenges, such as delayed diagnosis, limited access to mental health care, and difficulty navigating an unfamiliar military health care system was also reported.


Because of mTBI's lack of visible manifestation, soldiers may confuse their mTBI symptoms with those of other deployment-related injuries and this leads to a delay in treatment. Future research should explore the standardization of post-mTBI rehabilitation programs and the effectiveness of soldier education to promote early detection and treatment.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Hyatt, K; Davis, LL; Barroso, J

Published Date

  • August 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 179 / 8

Start / End Page

  • 849 - 855

PubMed ID

  • 25102527

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1930-613X

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0026-4075

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.7205/milmed-d-13-00526


  • eng