Study Reveals That Veterans Exposed to Bomb Blasts Suffer More Rapid Brain Aging

Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) July 16, 2015 – Condition may be missed as military does not track veterans without post-explosion concussion.

Men and women in uniform have always been exposed to a variety of risks during combat duty, but the jeopardy to one’s health for serving on the battlefield has not always been immediately apparent. Indeed, conditions such as Gulf War Syndrome or post-traumatic stress disorder often appear some time after a service member has returned home from duty. And now a new study points to the heightened risk of faster than normal aging of the brain that veterans who have been close to bomb blasts face.

Published in early June in “Brain: A Journal of Neurology,” the study broke ground in the examination of the longer-term brain health of veterans who were exposed to bomb blasts.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Research and Development and conducted at the Veterans Affairs (VA) facility in Boston, the study followed in the tracks of recent research at Johns Hopkins and other institutions that was concerned with the immediate impact and distinctive markers that bomb blasts leave upon their victims.

But while the earlier studies pointed to the near-term “shell shock” and pattern of injuries that bomb blast victims suffer, the VA-sponsored research focused on how veterans in close proximity to explosions — even those up to a football field away — later displayed pronounced aging in brain images. Those images indicated that there was “leakiness” and fraying of white matter in the brains of affected veterans, resulting in a much more rapid rate of brain aging

“Veterans face a variety of health issues, not least of which is traumatic brain injury (TBI),” said David W. Magann, a prominent attorney in Tampa, Florida, whose law firm specializes in legal services for veterans. “And this study points to another condition affecting their brain health they potentially have to deal with, but one that might be harder to immediately pinpoint than TBI.”

The military assesses troops who have been exposed to a bomb blast in the aftermath of the explosion, but will only track such veterans in the longer term if they had sustained a concussion. And due to improved armor and medical care, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have produced many more bomb blast survivors than in previous conflicts.

The VA estimates that up to 2.8 million veterans served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of those veterans, 166,049 were screened positive for mild traumatic brain injury between 2007 and 2014.

“Unfortunately, there are plenty of documented examples of veterans who have suffered traumatic brain injuries,” Magann said. “The VA study serves as an important reminder that some serious conditions slip by the medical screening process and that the health of our veterans really needs longer-term monitoring as well as treatment.”

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David W. Magann, P.A.
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156 W. Robertson St.
Brandon, FL 33511
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