Traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been commonly called the signature injury of the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but new research published in Acta Neuropathologica Communications suggests a large percentage of these brain injuries caused by bomb explosions may be a unique brain condition of their own.
Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and roadside bombs are the largest cause of deaths and injuries to U.S. troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The new study from Johns Hopkins Medical School shows brain lesions from these explosives are notably different from those caused by sports, car crashes, or drug overdoses.
The team of scientists examined the brains of five deceased veterans ranging in age from 23 to 3. All the soldiers had a history of surviving exposures to blasts during combat. When examining the brans, the researchers saw a unique honeycomb pattern of damage, with damaged areas spread across a section of the brain associated with executive functions like decision-making, memory, and reasoning.
According to the report, damage to this area of the brain can cause moodiness, difficulty processing thoughts, memory problems, personality changes, and impulsiveness.
The findings could have huge effects on the direction of brain injury research in the future and may explain discrepancies between treatment effectiveness for some veterans compared to the general population.