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Breakthrough in Blast-Related Brain Injuries Reveal Microscopic Scarring

Breakthrough in Blast-Related Brain Injures Reveals Microscopic Scarring

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Daniel Benedict/Released)

Scientists discover unique pattern of hidden brain damage in male soldiers exposed to high explosive blasts

Stewart W, Smith DH. Time to be blunt about blast traumatic brain injury. Lancet Neurol. 2016 Jun 9. pii: S1474-4422(16)30058-8. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(16)30058-8. PubMed PMID: 27291519.

The brains of eight veterans, all exposed to blasts from high explosives in combat, have been found to have microscopic scarring in the star-shaped cells that line the junctions between their gray and white matter, change patterns previously undetected by medical imaging such as CT or MRI scans.

Most significant, researchers for the study, published June 9 in the scientific journal Lancet Neurology, found that the brains of three veterans who died just days after blast exposure showed signs of trying to repair themselves from this microscopic damage.

The findings are the first physical evidence of brain injury resulting from exposure to high explosives, damage that has been called an "invisible wound," since it does not show up on any tests or scans.

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