The Association of Headache on Functional Adaptability and Biological Sex in Post-9/11 Veterans With Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a public health concern that can result in lasting, potentially life-long disabilities. Individuals who have sustained a mild TBI (mTBI) are at a greater risk for developing post-concussive symptoms such as forgetfulness, trouble sleeping, or headaches. Functional outcomes are a measurable task or goal that individuals perform in reference to different aspects of daily living (e.g., managing money). This is a secondary analysis on 3,252 Veterans collected from outpatient clinical care at the Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center at the South Texas Veterans Health Care at Audie L. Murphy VA Hospital. The current study aimed to examine the unique association of headaches on self-reported functional impairment while exploring the demographic and post-concussive factors that may influence functional impairment in Veterans with mTBI using a dominance analysis. The results showed that PTSD symptoms were the most important predictor variable, fully dominant over all other variables, including impact from headache. Impact from headache was only dominant over age and biological sex, was fully submissive to PTSD symptoms and cognitive burden. Results indicate that the impact of PTSD symptoms on day-to-day tasks may outweigh the impact of headaches on self-reported functionality. The findings emphasize the need to consider broader context of mental health symptoms when assessing functional impairment in Veterans.