For some time the thought was that the mTBI, TBI and concussions suffered on a playing field were different from what was being experienced on the battle field. The mechanisms may be different (collisions versus blast injuries) in nature but the resulting devastation may be similar. Again we can look to the northeast to Boston University’s brain bank and researchers for this new finding;
Scientists who have studied a degenerative brain disease in athletes have found the same condition in combat veterans exposed to roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan, concluding that such explosions injure the brain in ways strikingly similar to tackles and punches. [...]
“Our paper points out in a profound and definitive way that there is an organic, structural problem in the brain associated with blast exposure,” said Dr. Lee E. Goldstein of Boston University’s School of Medicine and a lead author of the paper, which was published online Wednesday by the peer-reviewed journal Science Translational Medicine.
The paper provides the strongest evidence yet that some and perhaps many combat veterans with invisible brain injuries caused by explosions are at risk of developing long-term neurological disease — a finding that, if confirmed, would have profound implications for military policy, veterans programs and future research.
As I have stated before I feel the military has been on the cutting edge of brain injury research this finding – although noted by Dr. Hovda of UCLA as not being a large enough sample – may propel the military to rethink and take new approaches to our veterans suffering from brain related issues.
As James Dao of the New York Times wrote the profound effect may be this;
The paper also seems likely to fuel a debate that has raged for decades over whether veterans who struggle emotionally and psychologically after returning from war suffer from psychiatric problems or brain injuries.
Dr. Goldstein and his co-lead author, Dr. Ann McKee, co-director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University, assert that their paper shows that many of those veterans probably have organic brain injuries and should be given appropriate treatment and disability compensation.
The virtual battle that researchers are facing with the concussion issue on the sporting field now will have another field and many more researchers with more funds to help in creating a better understanding of concussions and TBI.