What Neuroimages Can Teach About Blast Injuries

I thought that blast injury was probably the same as any other kind of injury; that it's just trauma to the brain whether the trauma was from an IED going off or whether the trauma was from hitting your head in a car accident, that it was probably a very common mechanistic path and that it all just led to damage to the brain in a very similar way, and I think what we see is that blast is probably unique and very unique to our military population. Trying to figure that out and tease that out from other areas of traumatic brain injury I think is going to be critical for the military. In blasts we see different patterns of injury, and there may be areas of the brain that are injured more in blasts than football or car accidents. Certainly, we've had talks with the NFL, and we've had discussions with them in a day-long seminar. After that seminar, it was clear to me that our guys, the military folks, were going through things much worse than any NFL linebacker could imply on a quarterback. It depends where you are and what your position is, whether you're in a vehicle, outside a vehicle, helmet on, helmet off; I suppose you should have your helmet on, clearly. But we see sort of very variable damage to the brain. The cerebellum, I think, is going to be the key. That's one area that people don't really look at all that much because it's a smaller section of the brain, but we're actually beginning to see damage in that area.

Neuroimaging the brains  of service members with blast-related TBI conducted at the NICoE are showing patterns of injury that may differ significantly from those sustained in a car crash or sports concussion.

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Posted on BrainLine September 28, 2012.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough, Brian King, and Jared Schaubert, BrainLine.