A large explosion creates an effect known as a blast wind. Soldiers who are exposed to such a blast wind often suffer serious injuries, including brain injuries. In a recent study conducted by Boston University and Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System researchers, brain tissue from soldiers exposed to a blast wind was found to show similar damage as that from athletes who suffered multiple concussions over the course of their careers. A single blast was capable of causing two conditions that are drawing headlines in connection with the NFL: chronic traumatic encephalopathy and long-term brain impairment resulting in memory loss, learning problems and psychiatric symptoms.
Improvised explosive devices (IED) have caused numerous injuries and deaths among U.S. military personnel working in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to the fatalities and the injuries caused by shrapnel and fire, the concussive force of air as it blasts outward from the device causes significant damage. Blast winds travel at several hundred miles per hour. When the wind strikes a human being, their heads move so quickly that the brain is literally bounced off the inside of the skull, leading to traumatic brain injury.
The prevalence of traumatic brain injury and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, in particular, is just now becoming understood. One estimate suggests that up to 20 percent of the soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001 may have suffered some form of brain trauma. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is particularly difficult to identify as it requires an analysis of brain tissue that can only be performed after the victim has passed away.
This study and others like it highlight the importance of further research into brain injuries. Soldiers as well as athletes who are afflicted by these conditions face an uncertain future. Hopefully the research points to new methods of preventing and treating structural brain injuries so fewer people are forced to deal with the uncertain prognosis and lifetime effects of these serious health conditions.
At GWC Injury Lawyers, we are one of the few personal injury law firms in Chicago that are reporting these types of developments on our digital platform because we care about the wellbeing of our military service members.
If you or someone that you love is a military veteran that requires the services of a dependable and proven law firm, we are here to help.