We present a review of neurological function in Gulf War veterans (GWV). Twenty-two studies were reviewed, including large hospitalization and registry studies, large population-based epidemiological studies, investigations of a single military unit, small uncontrolled studies of ill veterans and small controlled studies of veterans. In nearly all studies, neurological function was normal in most GWVs, except for a small proportion who were diagnosed with compression neuropathies (carpal tunnel syndrome or ulnar neuropathy). In the great majority of controlled studies, there were no differences in the rates of neurological abnormalities in GWVs and controls. In a national US study, the incidence of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) seems to be significantly increased in GWVs, compared to the rate in controls. However, it is possible that military service, in general, might be associated with an increased risk of ALS, rather than Gulf War service in particular. Taken together, the conclusion is that if a neurological examination in a GWV is within normal limits, then extensive neurological testing is unlikely to diagnose occult neurological disorders.
One contribution of 17 to a Theme Issue ‘The health of Gulf War veterans’.
- © 2006 The Royal Society