Current Research Regarding Blast Injuries in Veterans

This current research from the New England Journal of Medicine¬† – Detection of Blast-Related Traumatic Brain Injury in U.S. Military Personnel –¬† shows that Blast Injury is not at all like mild traumatic brain injury, since the mTBI does not involve white matter injuries. The research does show white matter changes during the medical evacuation, done in Germany using Diffusion Tensor Imaging, and also that the white matter changes continue to evolve. They also show that not all symptomatic blast injuries are seen with this technique.

No traditional structural neuroimaging was able to see this damage (like CT or routine MRI). The NY Times recently reported on soldiers injuries evading the M.R.I and CT Scans

The brain areas involved included the orbital surfaces of the frontal lobe and the temporal areas.

These results point to the need for a clinical diagnosis, not a reliance on any given technology to answer the clinical question.

The endocrine changes from supposed pituitary injury, and the presence of micro-emboli due to pressure wave impact on the thorax that are reported in blast injury is not at all dismissible with these findings.

Sports Related Brain Injury aka Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy(CTE)

It is now almost common to hear about athletes who suffered a number of concussions over their careers having some difficulties later in life. The damage can be very serious.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy(CTE) is associated with repeated head traumas — concussions or sub-concussive hits — that are not allowed to properly heal. It is a progressive degenerative disease found in individuals who have been subjected to multiple concussions and other forms of head injury. A variant of the condition, dementia pugilistica, is primarily associated with boxing. CTE has been most commonly found in professional athletes participating in gridiron football, ice hockey, professional wrestling and other contact sports, who have experienced head trauma, resulting in characteristic degeneration of brain tissue and the accumulation of tau protein. Individuals with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy may show symptoms of dementia such as memory loss, aggression, confusion and depression which may appear within months of the trauma or many decades later.

A number of athletes have been affected by the condition with serious consequences. Recently a former NFL lineman committed suicide after serious mental decline. His wife said it started with the nightmares and progressively got worse.

Bob Probert’s brain was examined after his early passing at the age and was found to have CTE (read more here).

Read more