Visual evoked potentials in relation to factors of imprisonment in detention camps
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Visual evoked potentials (VEPs) of the pattern shift reversal type were determined in a representative group of 57 prisoners of war (POWs) released in 1992 from detention camps in former Yugoslavia. The parameters were correlated with the conditions in four camps (1–4). All subjects were male, with a mean age of 34.75 years (SD ± 8.92), average length of imprisonment 192.7 days (SD ± 77.6), mean loss of body mass during imprisonment 19.32% (SD ± 9.54), and the average number of reported blows to the head and neck was 25.7 (SD ±20.3). VEPs were determined on average 290.5 days after the last craniocerebral trauma caused by blows to the head and neck (SD ± 152.0) i.e. on average 218.5 days after release from the camp (SD ± 164.3). Although all the 57 POWs reported being maltreated to a certain extent, 14 reported being subjected to particularly brutal forms of torture, 5 had been held in solitary confinement and 25 had lost consciousness at least once. Solitary confinement and loss of consciousness had the most significant effect on VEPs, and the altered VEP parameters correlated significantly with the craniocerebral trauma experienced, loss of body mass and the length of time since the last craniocerebral trauma until examination, and from release until examination. However, the length of imprisonment and treatment in the camps did not have a significant effect on VEP parameters. The study confirmed that under such conditions the age of the subject is a risk factor. The results of this study also confirmed that prisoners in one camp had been subjected to the worst maltreatment.
Key wordsPrisoners of war Visual evoked potentials Factors of imprisonment
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