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Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as “a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury." In addition, service members and Veterans potentially have the additional exposures to blast, both from combat and from training.
After a TBI and depending on the severity, the person may experience a change in consciousness that can range from becoming dazed and confused to loss of consciousness. The person may also have a loss of memory for the time immediately before or after the event that caused the injury.
Due to improved diagnostics and increased vigilance, the Department of Defense (DOD) estimates that 22 percent of all combat casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan are brain injuries, compared with 12 percent of Vietnam-related combat casualties. TBI and its associated co-morbidities are a significant cause of disability outside of military settings, most often as the result of assaults, falls, automobile accidents, or sports injuries.
VA’s Major TBI Accomplishments:
2008: Established a Brain Bank to collect and study post-mortem human brain and spinal cord tissue to better understand the effects of trauma on the human nervous system
2012: Discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative disease linked to repeated head traumas such as concussion, in the brains of four Veterans after their deaths
Below is a news story that illustrates VA’s commitment to advancing technology and research initiatives to benefit our nation’s Veterans.
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A new study finds that people with a history of combat-related mild traumatic brain injury—compared with those in a control group—have much higher levels of abnormally fast brain waves in a region that plays a key role in consciousness.
The findings appeared in the journal Cerebral Cortex in May 2019.
Using a neuroimaging process called MEG, the researchers concluded that the fast, or high-frequency, gamma waves were “markedly elevated” in two of the four lobes of the cerebral cortex: the pre-frontal and posterior parietal lobes. Those two lobes affect functions ranging from reasoning, organization, planning, execution, attention, and problem-solving.
Dr. Mingxiong Huang, a physicist at the VA San Diego Healthcare System, led the study. He’s done a series of papers on brain activity in relation to mild TBI and PTSD and is one of VA’s leading investigators using MEG. The neuroimaging tool can detect changes in abnormal waves in specific areas of the brain. Read more..