Image copyright US Army
By Greg Zoroya
Copyright 2014 USA Today
A small scientific study of veterans exposed to bomb blasts while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan uncovered signs of lasting brain damage even in cases where there were no outward symptoms such as headaches, dizziness or confusion.
Even though a soldier may not appear hurt by a blast wave doesn't mean there aren't small changes to the brain, concludes the report published Monday in The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation.
The authors cautioned that it remains unclear whether those changes will alter how the service member functions in the long run.
"There are clearly questions that we need to follow-up on," says Katherine Taber, a Department of Veterans Affairs scientist and lead author.
But scientists also found the results troubling because they suggest untold numbers of undiagnosed traumatic brain injury or TBI among U.S. service members, thousands of whom were routinely caught near roadside bombs blasts while on combat patrols.
"A lot of these military guys will not have had symptoms, like feeling dazed or confused, but yet they may have (brain) damage," says Rajendra A. Morey, a co-author and psychiatrist at Duke University School of Medicine.