Brain Injury Research Spurred by Military Action

Scientists have long-been mesmerized by figuring out the intricate details of the human brain. The brain is still considered the most complex and sophisticated machine on the planet-its intricacies are what make us human. However, this presents a challenge when the brain is injured and in need of repair. The organ is so complicated that researchers are still unraveling its mysteries.

Our Chicago brain injury lawyers know that besides the complexities of the brain, another complication into its research is a problem common to all scientists-securing funding. Scientists are often competing for scarce resources to pursue various research endeavors that, piece by piece, get at the solution to problems. Recently there has been an increase in brain injury research (and funding). Many observers are pointing to the increase in military attention on the issue as the reason for the renewed effort to get to the bottom of some of these problems.

As a posting at the U.S. Department of Defense yesterday explained, the Army is leading the way in this area. The Army currently has 472 active research projects totaling $633 million focused specifically on traumatic brain injuries. Of course the military officials first drew attention to the issue because of the growing number of servicemembers in Iraq and Afghanistan who were coming home with these injuries. However, while military injuries may have driven the surge in research, our Illinois brain injury attorneys know that information obtained from the research has the potential to help all those hurt in this way.

The director the Army’s Combat Casualty Care Research Program explained the counterintuitive fact that “mild” TBI is actually more of an unknown frontier than anything else. Much research is actually dedicated to these injuries. The long-term effects of more subtle brain damage are actually harder to identify and fix. It is no wonder why. As one involved military professional explained, “The fact is that on the milder injuries you don’t see physical defects but you can see functional issues.”

In the eleven year period between 2000 and 2011-when wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan were ongoing-there were more than 133,000 soldiers diagnosed with TBIs. That includes all kinds of brain injuries-from the severe to the mild. However, contrary to public perception the majority of those injuries do not occur on the battlefield. Instead, Army officials explain that only 25% of these injuries are combat-related with the rest resulting from military car accidents, training injuries, and other events.

Of all the research efforts currently in place many are focused on better identifying and treating minor TBIs. Severe brain damage is easy to diagnose-concussions are not. CT scans can easily identify major brain damage. However, these machines are not nearly as good at identifying mild head injuries. MRI machines currently do a decent job, but they are far from perfect.

Current research aiming at tackling this problem include looking into brain scanning technologies, quantitative electroencephalography (brain mapping), and blood tests as markers. In addition, various drugs are being looked at which might actually help prevent mild brain injuries.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Study Questions Efficacy of Military Brain Injury Treatments

Brain Injury Therapy Available for Iraqi War Veterans

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