The Army is increasingly researching methods to diagnose and treat traumatic brain injuries on the battlefield, the American Forces Press Service reports.
The brach has invested $633 million into TBI research and has 472 active research projects alone.
Col. Dr. Dallas Hack, director of the Army’s combat casualty care research program, told AFPS that more than 133,000 soldiers were diagnosed with TBI from 2000 to 2011.
The entire Defense Department had 220,000 diagnoses in that same period.
Hack said 25 percent of brain injuries, including mild to moderate injuries resulting from a blow or penetration to the head, are combat related.
Hack said a majority of injuries result from training injuries and vehicle accidents.
More severe brain injuries are easier to detect using a computed tomography scan where a physical defect will be evident.
Moderate injuries are more difficult to monitor, Hack said.
Hack said magnetic resonance imaging machines can create pictures of the internal brain with magnets and radio waves.
The difficulty has resulted from ignoring the more minor or moderate injuries, he said.
The Army launched a research program to treat mild TBI with the National Football League and the National Hockey League to test brain scanning and mapping technologies, blood tests for biomarkers of brain injury and drugs that could prevent injury, Hack said.
Smaller brain injuries are not physically evident, but can be observed based on functional issues.
The Army is developing alternate methods to monitor these injuries by checking blood flow, the direction of molecules in teh brain and the nerve tracts in the brain.
The Army is currently working to get a device approved by the Food and Drug Administration that would test soldiers’ blood for abnormalities or brain cell decomposition.
Hack said the device would be submitted for approval and testing in 2013.
Military funded researcher Anthony Guiseppi-Elie recently filed for a patent on a biochip technology that could detect blast-induced injuries in soldiers.