Military personnel who have trained with heavy weaponry may have been exposed to blasts that cause traumatic brain injury, a newly published study claims.
Emerging evidence presented in a May Center for New American Security report suggests that extensive use of shoulder-fired weapons like the Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle, the M72 LAW or the AT4 exposes service members to “overpressure” of the brain, the effect when a blast wave traveling faster than the speed of sound causes a ripple of the skull, generating additional pressure on the brain.
Prevalence of these injuries — coined “the signature of today’s wars” — in troops has escalated dramatically since the Department of Defense began documenting cases in 2000.
Since then, there have been close to 380,000 personnel who have reportedly sustained some degree of traumatic brain injury. And by 2007, head injuries were the most treated injury by the U.S. military, eclipsing chest and abdominal wounds, the study found.