Signs of Brain Damage are Not Always Immediate

One thing you cannot escape these days is discussions about head trauma.  Major League Baseball has outlawed collisions at home plate for the upcoming season over fear of concussions and other gruesome injuries.  The NFL has changed the rules on the kickoff to avoid players running into each other head on, and they are tinkering with the idea of eliminating the extra point over concussion-related concerns.  It seems that everyone is trying to get out in front of such injuries and to understand them better, and the military is no different.

Veterans are still at risk for head trauma, even if they did not show signs or symptoms at the time of injury

A study published earlier this month found that veterans are still at risk for head trauma, even if they did not show signs or symptoms at the time of injury.  The researched divided 45 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars into three groups: those who had been exposed to blasts and had symptoms of traumatic brain injury (TBI); those who had been exposed to blasts and had no symptoms of TBI; and those without blast exposure.

Tests were performed to assess the participants mental abilities and brain scans were done to look for damage in the brain’s white matter.  Veterans who were exposed to blasts but had no immediate signs of brain damage nonetheless had brain damage similar to those with symptoms of TBI.

The study’s findings suggest that a lack of symptoms after exposure to a blast may not indicate the extent of brain damage.  “Similar to sports injuries, people near an explosion assume that if they don’t have clear symptoms – losing consciousness, blurred vision, headaches – they haven’t had injury to the brain,” study senior author Dr. Rajendra Morey, an associate professor of psychiatry  and behavioral sciences at Duke University School of Medicine.  She is also a psychiatrist at the Durham (NC) VA Medical Center.  “Our findings are important because they’re showing that even if you don’t have symptoms, there may still be damage.”

This is important information for doctors to not take for granted veterans who were exposed to blasts, even though their service medical records are silent for any symptoms of TBI at the time.  It was even suggested that brain scans could help detect injury in patients with no symptoms.

This is valuable research going forward not only for the treatment of veterans, but also for veterans who have filed claims for service-connected TBI.  As more and more evidence comes out to suggest that a TBI may occur even without, for example, loss of consciousness at the time, the easier it will hopefully become for veterans to prove their claim.

Disability Benefits for Veterans with Brain Damage

If you were exposed to a blast on active duty and your doctors are concerned you may now be showing signs of a TBI, please contact Veterans Help Group to evaluate any possible claims that could be made. You have a right to disability compensation if injuries from your service are affecting your ability to live a normal life. Read more here about veterans disability compensation for head injuries.

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