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Mild blast-related brain injuries can cause brain abnormalities

Members of the United States military who serve in combat zones can often suffer serious injuries. In the case of Afghanistan and Iraq combat zones, injuries from improvised explosive devices were common. Many of those blast-related injuries led to traumatic brain injuries. A study published in NeuroImage: Clinical shows that brain abnormalities are even associated with mild TBIs.

The study, which is the first of its kind, studied how mild TBIs associated with blast injuries affected the white matter of the brain. Many of the blast-related TBIs our troops suffer are classified as minor; however, the study showed that changes in the white matter of the brain were an effect of these injuries. The issue is that these effects aren't likely to show up on CT scans and other standard imaging tests used for diagnosing TBIs.

In this study, participants underwent a battery of tests and assessments. One test, a diffusion tensor imaging test, showed changes in the white matter of participants who had suffered a TBI. For the purpose of the study, participants were divided into three groups:

-- TBI without loss of consciousness

-- TBI with loss of consciousness

-- No prior TBI

The changes in the white matter of the brain that is responsible for verbal memory had abnormalities in the participants who suffered from a TBI. The effects were especially evident in people who had a TBI and lost consciousness.

This study is important for people who suffered from any mild TBI because brain abnormalities are often associated with neurological degenerative conditions that can affect people as they age. For people who have suffered a mild TBI, this study might point to a need for long-term monitoring even when basic imaging tests don't show any long-term effects.

Source: Medical Xpress, "Brain abnormalities found among those experiencing blast-related mild traumatic brain injury," April. 22, 2015

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