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J Trauma. 2010 May;68(5):1257-63. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e3181d8956d.

Neurological effects of blast injury.

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National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Over the last few years, thousands of soldiers and an even greater number of civilians have suffered traumatic injuries due to blast exposure, largely attributed to improvised explosive devices in terrorist and insurgent activities. The use of body armor is allowing soldiers to survive blasts that would otherwise be fatal due to systemic damage. Emerging evidence suggests that exposure to a blast can produce neurologic consequences in the brain but much remains unknown. To elucidate the current scientific basis for understanding blast-induced traumatic brain injury (bTBI), the NIH convened a workshop in April 2008. A multidisciplinary group of neuroscientists, engineers, and clinicians were invited to share insights on bTBI, specifically pertaining to: physics of blast explosions, acute clinical observations and treatments, preclinical and computational models, and lessons from the international community on civilian exposures. This report provides an overview of the state of scientific knowledge of bTBI, drawing from the published literature, as well as presentations, discussions, and recommendations from the workshop. One of the major recommendations from the workshop was the need to characterize the effects of blast exposure on clinical neuropathology. Clearer understanding of the human neuropathology would enable validation of preclinical and computational models, which are attempting to simulate blast wave interactions with the central nervous system. Furthermore, the civilian experience with bTBI suggests that polytrauma models incorporating both brain and lung injuries may be more relevant to the study of civilian countermeasures than considering models with a neurologic focus alone.

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