The Most Common Causes of Concussions in the Military

Dr. Jack Tsao talks about how 85 percent of concussions in the military happen during training, in sports, or in vehicle crashes not in combat.

The mechanism of injury from the combat zone is mostly explosive blasts still, but there are instances where you have a combination of blast followed by something else happening. So, an example is the vehicle hits a bomb, vehicle rolls over, and so service member either is thrown from the vehicle and hits their head or, as the vehicle is rolling over, bangs their head inside the vehicle. But when we look at most of the concussion numbers in the DOD, it turns out that about 85% of all the concussions don't happen in the combat theater. They actually happen either sort of in training environments, sports, or other causes, such as motor vehicle accidents in the garrison setting. So that's part of why we're making this push to try to unify the concussion approach throughout our medical enterprise, because even after the war stops, and our forces are pulled out of Afghanistan, the number of concussions we don't expect will go down significantly simply because most of them didn't happen in the combat environment to start with.
Posted on BrainLine February 4, 2014.

About the author: Jack Tsao, MD

Jack Tsao, MD, DPhil, CAPT, MC, USN is a United States Navy neurologist and the director of Traumatic Brain Injury Programs for the US Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, professor of Neurology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and fellow of the American Academy of Neurology.