Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Military Studies Brain Injuries from Blasts

USA Today reports that "Military scientists are learning how roadside bombs — the most common weapon used against U.S. troops in the field — harm the brain even when there is no other physical damage, according to research results released by the project's lead scientist. They discovered a sliding scale of injury ranging from brain cell inflammation to cell damage or cell death depending on the power of the blast, says Army Col. Geoffrey Ling, a neurologist at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. ... Scientists also found that brain damage from an improvised explosive device (IED) can be made worse for those riding inside an armored Humvee because materials in the vehicle magnify the blast wave effect, Ling says. Up to 360,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may have suffered brain injuries, the Pentagon announced last month. Many of those injuries are from IED blasts, and about 90% are so-called mild cases where recovery is expected. An estimated 45,000 to 90,000 victims, however, suffer persistent symptoms such as memory loss, lack of balance and problem-solving difficulties."

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