Blast Injury has come a long way from Shell Shock

People in the military who suffer more than one mild traumatic brain injury face a significantly higher risk of suicide. Veterans and deployed military used to be thought of as having sustained "shell shock" as a result of hearing or being near blasts.  Today we know much more.

For instance, we now know that People in the military who suffer more than one mild traumatic brain injury face a significantly higher risk of suicide.  Why you may ask?

Research by the National Center for Veterans Studies at the University of Utah revealed that of 161 military personnel who were stationed in Iraq and evaluated for a possible traumatic brain injury — also known as TBI — showed the risk for suicidal thoughts or behaviors increased not only in the short term, as measured during the past 12 months, but during the individual’s lifetime.

This is sobering.  What was once considered "shell shock," a treatable psychological disorder now referred to more accurately as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, can be associated with actual Traumatic Brain Injury, which is injury to the brain itself.  Multiple or combined injuries increase the probability of suicidal ideation and suicide.

This has to be added to the already high toll wars take and the costs associated with them.

Why TBI is of Concern for Military Personnel

As defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a traumatic brain injury is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head, or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Effects can be mild to severe. The majority of Traumatic Brain Injuries that occur each year are concussions or other mild forms.

Traumatic Brain Injury is considered a "signature injury" of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts and is of particular concern because of the frequency of concussive injuries from explosions and other combat-related incidents. Estimated prevalence of Traumatic Brain Injury  for those deployed in these two countries ranges from 8 percent to 20 percent, according to a 2008 study.

In addition, according to studies by the RAND Corp., suicide is the second-leading cause of death among U.S. military personnel, and the rate has risen steadily since the conflicts began in Iraq and Afghanistan. Prevalence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression and substance abuse have risen as well, especially among those in combat, and each has been shown to increase risk for suicidal behaviors.