By Gregg Zoroya – USA Today
Posted : Wednesday Apr 8, 2009 16:33:32 EDT
ARLINGTON, Va. — Military scientists are learning how roadside bombs — the most common weapon used against U.S. troops in on the battlefield — harm the brain even when there is no other physical damage, according to research results released by the project’s lead scientist.
Researchers discovered a sliding scale of injury ranging from brain cell inflammation to cell damage or cell death, depending on the power of the blast, said Army Col. Geoffrey Ling, a neurologist at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Future research that builds on these findings may lead to ways battlefield medics can use a combination of helmet sensors and over-the-counter pain reliever to identify and treat mild cases of blast-caused brain injury, Ling said.
Scientists also found that brain damage from an improvised explosive device can be made worse for those riding inside an armored Humvee because materials in the vehicle magnify the blast wave effect, Ling said.