Dr. Ann McKee: Blast Injury and CTE

Dr. Ann McKee says that "blast injury is not a 'pure' injury" because it generally involves other factors, such as a being inside a Humvee. The result is that there is not only the blast injury, but a further impact injury. This combination makes the brains donated by those who are, or have been, in military service very valuable. 

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As far as blast injury, yes, we had an important paper in my opinion back in 2012 where we looked at blast-injured soldiers. And we also developed a mouse model of blast injury and we did find CTE in some of those individuals that had been affected by blast. Of course blast is not usually a pure injury. They’re usually inside a Humvee or they’re outside in the environment and they experience the blast and then they have contact with the wall or you know there’s usually an impact injury too. And it’s usually multiple exposure. But we do know that blast is associated with CTE. And that’s been shown. We also know that concussive injury’s common in combatants. And that’s been shown too in military folks that they can get CTE. But again, we really need numbers. We just don’t have that mean OEF/OIF brains to look at. We don’t have – you know, you hear the statistics that suicide’s 20 a day. We’re just not getting those brains. We need every single one of those brains because we need to understand what the effects are. Did it help lead to depression and impulsivity that may have contributed to this suicide? We don’t know that yet, but we’d like to know that and it’s really a numbers game. So anything you can do to encourage individuals to register for brain donation, and if they know of someone that very unfortunately died, to have that brain looked at by skilled researchers. This video was produced by BrainLine thanks to generous support from the Infinite Hero Foundation.
Posted on BrainLine December 20, 2018.

About the author: Ann McKee, MD

Ann McKee, MD is the chief neuropathologist for the Framingham Heart Study and the Boston University-based Centenarian Study. She is also the chief neuropathologist for the Boston-based Veterans Administration Medical Centers and for the Sports Legacy Institute.

Ann McKee

This video was produced by BrainLine thanks to generous support from the Infinite Hero Foundation.