To evaluate trends in the extant literature on mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) in military service members and veterans using network analysis based on a comprehensive search of original, peer-reviewed research articles involving human participants published between January 1, 2010, and December 31, 2019. Specifically, we employed network analysis to evaluate associations in the following areas: (1) peer-reviewed journals, (2) authors, (3) organizations/institutions, and (4) relevant key words.
Included studies were published in peer-reviewed journals available on Web of Science database, using US military service members or veterans.
Bibliometric network analytical review.
Outcomes for each analysis included number of articles, citations, total link strength, and clusters.
The top publishing journals were (1) Journal of Head Trauma and Rehabilitation, (2) Military Medicine, (3) Brain Injury, (4) Journal of Neurotrauma, and (5) Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development. The top publishing authors were (1) French, (2) Lange, (3) Cooper, (4) Vanderploeg, and (5) Brickell. The top research institutions were (1) Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, (2) Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, (3) University of California San Diego, (4) Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and (5) Boston University. The top co-occurring key words in this analysis were (1) posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), (2) persistent postconcussion symptoms (PPCS), (3) blast injury, (4) postconcussion syndrome (PCS), and (5) Alzheimer's disease.
The results of this network analysis indicate a clear focus on veteran health, as well as investigations on chronic effects of mTBI. Research in civilian mTBI indicates that delaying treatment for symptoms and impairments related to mTBI may not be the most precise treatment strategy. Increasing the number of early, active, and targeted treatment trials in military personnel could translate to meaningful improvements in clinical practices for managing mTBI in this population.