House of Representatives Passes Amendment Directing Research on the Mechanism of Blast Injuries and Brain Damage in the Military
Congratulations to U.S Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr (D-NJ) for sponsoring legislaition that passed the United States House of Representatives today directs the U.S. Department of Defense to conduct a study on blast injury mechanics impacting soldiers on the battlefield. Rep. Pascrell's amendment was included in National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 (H.R. 4435), which passed with a vote of 325-98.
"It's imperative we provide our brave men and women in uniform the care they were promised upon returning from the battlefield," said Rep. Pascrell, co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force. "Although the Department of Defense has taken important steps toward identifying and treating our soldiers who have suffered traumatic brain injuries, we must ensure every resource possible is available to those serving our nation. Key investments in this type of traumatic brain injury research will help prevent soldiers from sustaining this devastating injury by ensuring that the necessary data exists to design soldiers’ protective gear in a way that limits the impact of primary blast."
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is commonly known as the signature wound of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. More research is necessary to establish the connection and mechanism associated with blasts and brain damage.
It is commonly believed that primary blast injury occurs when an explosion generates a blast wave traveling faster than sound and creating a surge of high pressure immediately followed by a vacuum. Studies have shown that the blast wave shoots through armor and soldiers' skulls and brains, even if it doesn't draw blood. Researchers still do not know the exact mechanisms by which primary blast injuries damages the brain's cells and circuits.
However, the blast wave's pressure has been shown to compress the torso, impacting blood vessels, which then send damaging energy pulses into the brain. The pressure can also be transferred partially through the skull, interacting with the brain. Understanding how a primary blast injury affects the brain is imperative to developing appropriate prevention measures, including ensuring proper equipment.
Rep. Pascrell's amendment would direct the Department of Defense through the Peer-Reviewed Psychological Health and TBI Research Program to conduct a study on blast injury mechanics covering a wide range of primary blast injury conditions, including TBI, in order to accelerate solution development in this critical area.