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Mt Sinai J Med. 2009 Apr;76(2):111-8. doi: 10.1002/msj.20098.

Blast-related mild traumatic brain injury: mechanisms of injury and impact on clinical care.

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James J Peters Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Rehabilitation Medicine Service, Bronx, NY, USA.


Mild traumatic brain injury has been called the signature injury of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In both theaters of operation, traumatic brain injury has been a significant cause of mortality and morbidity, with blast-related injury the most common cause. Improvised explosive devices have been the major cause of blast injuries. It is estimated that 10% to 20% of veterans returning from these operations have suffered a traumatic brain injury, and there is concern that blast-related injury may produce adverse long-term health affects and affect the resilience and in-theater performance of troops. Blast-related injury occurs through several mechanisms related to the nature of the blast overpressure wave itself as well as secondary and tertiary injuries. Animal studies clearly show that blast overpressure waves are transmitted to the brain and can cause changes that neuropathologically are most similar to diffuse axonal injury. One striking feature of the mild traumatic brain injury cases being seen in veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is the high association of mild traumatic brain injury with posttraumatic stress disorder. The overlap in symptoms between the disorders has made distinguishing them clinically challenging. The high rates of mild traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress disorder in the current operations are of significant concern for the long-term health of US veterans with associated economic implications.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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