These are the headlines of a recent CBS News broadcast concerning military personnel returning from Iraq (Jan 7, 2018). No, this is not a news report on ex-NFL players having brain injuries from multiple concussions. Football player’s problems are now considered old news, so old a full-length motion picture “Concussion” was nominated for an Academy Award several years ago. This is about returning vets coming home with brain damage.
New information is surfacing about the autopsies of veterans who suffered concussive symptoms from IEDs (improvised explosive devices) while serving in Iraq. These soldiers were far enough away from the explosion so that they suffered no immediate trauma. Most reported no symptoms at all.
Now, years later, doctors are discovering that soldiers have suffered permanent brain injuries (CTE: Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy). This diagnosis can generally only be made at autopsy, so these young victims must now be dead.
Scientists generally believed it took multiple concussions over an NFL career to cause CTE. Many of these soldiers had one or several explosion exposures, not hundreds of tiny head pops.
The conclusion that must be drawn is that it doesn’t take a dozen hard hits to damage the brain, one hard hit may be enough. CTE is the most extreme form of the disease, the brain literally has small holes. Estimates are that 10-20% of returning veterans may be suffering- a hidden time bomb.
I have previously described in detail how patients with mild TBI have visual symptoms. The research literature is full of data documenting my conclusion. Now we know that soldiers even at some distance from a blast may have brain damage- servicemen who walked away without a scratch.
I’ve already stated on numerous occasions that TBI victims in accidents deserve ophthalmologic evaluation. These patients will never get that care in the ER, or in a regular doctor’s office visit, or from a Chiropractic physician. The evidence connecting vision problems to head trauma is growing. This week’s news report on veterans further confirms the problem. Ex-soldiers are being evaluated by eye doctors in VA hospitals across the country. Who’s checking on civilian head trauma victims?