Vestibular, balance, microvascular and white matter neuroimaging characteristics of blast injuries and mild traumatic brain injury: Four case reports
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BACKGROUND: Case reports are presented on four Veterans, aged 29-46 years, who complained of chronic dizziness and/or postural instability following blast exposures. Two of the four individuals were diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury and three of the four were exposed to multiple blasts. Comprehensive vestibular, balance, gait, audiometry and neuroimaging procedures were used to characterize their injuries. CASE REPORT: Vestibular assessment included videonystagmography, rotary chair and cervical and ocular vestibular evoked myogenic potentials. Balance and gait testing included the sensory organization test, preferred gait speed and the dynamic gait index. Audiometric studies included pure tone audiometry and middle-ear measurements. Neuroimaging procedures included high resolution structural magnetic resonance imaging, susceptibility-weighted imaging and diffusion-tensor imaging. FINDINGS: Based on the neuroimaging and vestibular and balance test results, it was found that all individuals had diffuse axonal injuries and all had one or more micro-hemorrhages or vascular anomalies. Three of the four individuals had abnormal vestibular function, all had abnormally slow walking speeds and two had abnormal gait and balance dysfunction. CONCLUSION: The use of contemporary neuroimaging studies in conjunction with comprehensive vestibular and balance assessment provided a better understanding of the pathophysiology and pathoanatomy of dizziness following blast exposures than standard vestibular and balance testing alone.