Each year, thousands of people die from brain injuries or the complications they cause. The Centers for Disease Control characterize traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) as a serious public health issue, occurring at a rate of about 2.5 million incidents each year. They generally occur when the head is jolted or bumped violently, which commonly happens during sports play, car accidents or physical attacks. For victims that survive their injuries, certain brain functions may become permanently impaired. TBIs range in seriousness from mild concussions to severe episodes of unconsciousness. Though TBIs affect individuals in different ways, new research suggests that affected military personnel may suffer from a previously undiagnosed type of TBI.
USA Today is reporting about a recent study regarding young soldiers who died after being caught in violent wartime blasts. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University studied the brains of five deceased soldiers who died between the ages of 23 and 38. Each of the individuals were survivors of one or more combat blasts, but died some time later. When studying the patterns of the brains, researchers reportedly found lesions that differed from those normally seen in brain injury cases. According to the report, the physicians described honeycomb patterns of damage, spread across various areas of the brain.
Vassilis Koliatsos is professor of pathology, neurology and psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins. he co-authored the study and is quoted in the article as stating, "We saw a pattern that we had not seen before." He went on to explain that military troops have not been exposed to this level of repeated blasts since World War I, when the trenches where soldiers took cover were subjected to explosives and blasts repeatedly.