According to a new study, many soldiers who have served in several theaters of operations have sustained mild traumatic injuries from explosions. Vets vexed by mild traumatic injuries are being scanned for other symptoms associated with mild traumatic injuries.
Although most marines who served in war zones tend to ignore the symptoms associated with this affliction, it would seem that the outcomes are much more dramatic than imagined.
In order to identify what parts of the brain are more affected by this type of injury, a group of medical researchers from Seattle started a series of experiments involving both human volunteers and rodents.
The study has been conducted by a tag team of researchers from the University of Washington and from the Veteran’s Health Care System.
Several MRI scans performed on 500.000 soldiers serving in Iraq or Afghanistan have shown that the cerebellum in most vulnerable in the case of repeated explosions. The cerebellum is involved in many higher brain activities. According to medical literature, the cerebellum plays a key role in movement coordination. It also helps us maintain our balance and it is involved in other cognitive skills.
Vets vexed by mild traumatic injuries and all leads seem to hint back at the cerebellum, a critical brain organ, which, among other functions, plays a key role in long-term memory.
James S. Meabon, a psychiatrist and one of the scientists involved in the study said that, very often, these types of traumatic events go unnoticed for an extended period of time.
In terms of statistics, approximately 40 veterans have been identified as suffering from mild traumatic brain injuries. Moreover, the medical researchers identified 21 separate cases of mild traumatic brain injuries due to explosions.
As stated, in order to further study the effects of mild traumatic brain injuries from explosions, the scientists set up several lab experiments using lab rodents. In each case, the mice were put in a shock test tube and subjected to several blasts.
Over time, the scientists have observed that blasts can often destroy parts of the rodent’s blood-brain barrier. As a result of this event, most mice started to lose several key neurons found in the cerebellum.
Alzheimer, Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries, and Dementia
After analyzing several cases involving human subjects, the team of scientists has discovered that the number of explosions is in inverse ratio with the levels of brain glucose: more blasts resulted in lower levels of brain glucose.
Also, by studying the effects on both mice and men, the team have uncovered another fact. In mice, exposure to repeated blasts leads to neurodegeneration. In time, the brain of mice will start to show a buildup of certain proteins which are known to play a key role in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s dementia.
Vets vexed by mild traumatic injuries will be able to receive more help, thanks to the insight offered by this new study.
The paper containing the study has been published on Wednesday, in the journal of Translational Science Medicine.