Jan 19, 2016 09:43 AM EST
On duty members of the U.S military are directly exposed to a lot of perils, one of these dangers is facing left and right explosions in their presence on the battlefield. A recent study showed that aside from possible physical injuries, it can also do permanent damages to the brain.
A team of researchers from the VA Puget Sound Health Care System and the University of Washington conducted a study to have a deeper understanding of the various injuries that can affect the brain. They discovered that over 250,000 U.S military members all over the world reported to have acquired mild traumatic brain injuries like concussions. The team also found out that post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is commonly associated with it.
As for their study, the researchers looked at and analyzed a group of 41 veteran soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq wars. After conducting a series of positron emission tomography (PET) scans, the researchers were able to figure out that those soldiers who were more exposed to explosions have lower activity in a part of the brain called 'cerebellum.'
According to one of the authors, Dr. Elaine Peskind, the cerebellum plays a key role in maintaining the proper function of a brain as it is very important for motor skills and emotions. She also added that the veterans who were greatly affected by mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) are more likely to develop problems with irritability, mood and impulsivity.
Dr. Peskind and her fellow researchers also figured out, through the use of an experiment on lab rats, that explosions can affect the cerebellum by producing microscopic damages on the blood barrier, which surrounds the cells that travel towards the brain, resulting to a decreased amount of neurons and emotional stability. Prof. David Cook, also of the VA Puget Sound Health Care System and study co-author, added that their study showed the pattern of brain cell loss after blasts matched the reports on retired boxers.
Dr. Peskind and Dr. Cook concluded by saying that the brain damage any soldier exposed to blasts could get is not limited to the cerebellum and that other parts of the brain may get affected as well.