Neurological Disorders That May Disqualify You From Military Service

Neurological Disorders

Scientist holding a petri dish with a brain scan illustrating research into dementia, alzheimers and other brain disorders.
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There are many medical and mental conditions that will disqualify a person from beginning or continuing military service. The disqualifying medical conditions listed in this article include the International Classification of Disease (ICD) codes. These codes are considered the standard and are a common language in the medical industry to classify and monitor injuries.

Ramifications of a Disqualifying Neurological Disorder

The Department of Defense (DoD) determines the type and severity of a medical condition that are acceptable for a person to join and remain in the military. If an individual should possess or develop one of the neurological disorders listed as disqualifying, they can be rejected for an appointment and be denied enlistment and induction into the service. If denied, you can apply for a medical waiver which will allow the disorder to be overlooked or allowed.

Neurological disorders affect the central nervous and peripheral nervous systems. Such diseases can involve the brain, spinal cord, nerves, and how these systems interact with one another and the body as a whole. Depending on the disorder and its severity, a neurological condition may include paralysis, seizures, pain, alertness, and other physical symptoms.

List of Disqualifying Disorders

The following list includes examples of ailments that would fall under each particular general condition. The list is not all-inclusive but gives a wide sampling of conditions. Disorders can be those an individual is currently suffering from or a history of that condition.

Cerebrovascular conditions Including:

  • Subarachnoid (430) or Intracerebral (431) hemorrhage
  • Vascular insufficiency
  • Aneurysm, or arteriovenous malformation (437)
  • Congenital or acquired anomalies of the central nervous system (742)
  • Meningocele (741.9)
  • Meninges, including, but not limited to cysts (349.2)

Degenerative and heredodegenerative disorders, including

  • Disorders affecting the cerebrum (330)
  • Basal ganglia (333)
  • Cerebellum (334)
  • Spinal cord (335)
  • Peripheral nerves (337)

History of recurrent headaches (784.0) that interfere with normal function in the past three years—or of such severity to require prescription medications— including:

  • Migraines (346)
  • Tension headaches (307.81)

Head Injuries

History of head injury will be disqualifying if associated with any of the following:

  • (a) Post-traumatic seizure(s) occurring more than 30 minutes after injury.
  • (b) Persistent motor or sensory deficits.
  • (c) Impairment of intellectual function.
  • (d) Alteration of personality.
  • (e) Unconsciousness, amnesia, or disorientation of person, place, or time of 24-hours duration or longer post-injury.
  • (f) Multiple fractures involving skull or face (804).
  • (g) Cerebral laceration or contusion (851).
  • (h) History of epidural, subdural, subarachnoid, or intercerebral hematoma (852).
  • (i) An associated abscess (326) or meningitis (958.8). (j) Cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhea (349.81) or otorrhea (388.61) persisting more than seven days. (k) Focal neurologic signs.
  • (l) Radiographic evidence of retained foreign body or bone fragments secondary to the trauma and/or operative procedure in the brain.
  • (m) Leptomeningeal cysts or Arteriovenous Fistula.

History of moderate head injury (854.03) is disqualifying. After two years post-injury, applicants may be qualified if neurological consultation shows no residual dysfunction or complications. Moderate head injuries are defined as unconsciousness, amnesia, or disorientation of person, place, or time alone or in combination, of more than one and less than 24-hours duration post-injury, or linear skull fracture.

History of mild head injury (854.02) is disqualifying. After one month post-injury, applicants may be qualified if a neurological evaluation shows no residual dysfunction or complications. Mild head injuries are defined as a period of unconsciousness, amnesia, or disorientation of person, place, or time, alone or in a combination of one hour or less postinjury.

History of persistent post-traumatic symptoms (310.2) that interfere with normal activities or have a duration of greater than one month is disqualifying. Such symptoms include, but are not limited to headache, vomiting, disorientation, spatial disequilibrium, impaired memory, poor mental concentration, shortened attention span, dizziness, or altered sleep patterns.

Infectious Diseases of the Central Nervous System

Current or history of acute infectious processes of the central nervous system, including, but not limited to meningitis (322), encephalitis (323), or brain abscess (324), are disqualifying if occurring within one year before ​an examination, or if there are residual neurological defects.

History of neurosyphilis (094) of any form, including but not limited to general paresis, tabes dorsalis or meningovascular syphilis, is disqualifying.

Current or history or narcolepsy or cataplexy (347) is disqualifying,

Current or history of paralysis, weakness, lack of coordination, chronic pain, sensory disturbance or other specified paralytic syndromes (344) is disqualifying.

Epilepsy (345) occurring beyond the sixth birthday, unless the applicant has been free of seizures for a period of five years while taking no medication for seizure control, and has a normal electroencephalogram (EEG) is disqualifying. All such applicants will have a current neurology consultation with current EEG results.

Chronic nervous system disorders, including but not limited to myasthenia gravis (358.0), multiple sclerosis (340), and tic disorders (307.20) (for example, Tourette's (307.23)) are disqualifying.

Current or history of retained central nervous system shunts of all kinds (V45.2) is disqualifying.

Derived from Department of Defense (DOD) Directive 6130.3, "Physical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment, and Induction," and DOD Instruction 6130.4, "Criteria and Procedure Requirements for Physical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment, or Induction in the Armed Forces."