At the climax of last year’s fighting season, more than 300 U.S. troops received mild traumatic brain injuriesor concussions every month. Often those injuries resulted from exposure to a blast. Troops not killed or gravely wounded by blasts were often left stunned or even momentarily unconscious.
Concerned that many soldiers were suffering mild traumatic brain injuries or concussions, the military put new treatment procedures in place last year. Regulations now require that any soldier or Marine caught near a blast has to be pulled from active combat for at least 24 hours, and they must be examined for signs of concussion. Those displaying symptoms – such as dizziness, headaches or vomiting – remain on rest duty until the symptoms disappear. This can take up to a week or two.
The concern that led to this change revolved around the thought that troops need time to recover, and that exposure to a second blast before a brain has healed, could cause permanent damage. Manhattan and Long Island doctors remark that it is pivotal that military officials are attempting to provide combat operation manuals that incorporate the wellbeing of soldiers.
Magnetic resonance imaging or MRI machines, will allow doctors in war zones to see areas of damage to the brain, experts remark.
Sometimes, the brain damage caused by blast can be so microscopic that it does not show up on a computed tomography (or CT) radiation scan. These types of scans are already in use in Afghanistan. Research has shown that about 30% of concussions missed by a CT scan are displayed by MRI machines that can even reveal damage to the brain’s wiring and uncovers areas where brain cell metabolism has been compromised.
The use of MRI technology in the field can also provide more precise diagnosis of muscular-skeletal problems and other very common combat injuries.
A renowned neurologist proclaims that an MRI in the field will allow field doctors to get away from just making a guess as to when soldiers can reenter combat. The potential gains of the push to get these machines onto the battlefield is so large as to be incalculable, reports a source.