Pentagon steps up effort to gauge war-linked brain injuries

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 04.10.2009

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — Every soldier who’s gone to war in the past year paused before leaving to take a brain test — basic math, matching numbers and symbols and identifying patterns to measure response time and accuracy.

Now that some of these troops have returned, they’re taking a fresh round of tests, all part of a broad effort by the military to better treat head injuries.

The Department of Defense is also deploying some unusual weapons for treating the injuries, including paint guns and motion-sensitive video games integrated into therapy at new trauma centers around the country.

Funding for the treatment of these injuries is expected to increase under President Obama, who said Thursday his new military and veterans affairs budget will focus on diagnosing brain injuries and psychological disabilities that have gone untreated.

More than 150,000 service members from the Marines, Air Force, Army and Navy have undergone the testing that became mandatory last year. Those who suffer a concussion or similar head injury will get a follow-up test.

The 101st Airborne Division is the only division going a step further and testing all soldiers again over the last few months as they have been returning to Fort Campbell from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The tests alone can’t diagnose traumatic brain injuries, the signature injury of the wars, potentially crippling and sometimes hard to detect damage from blows that can include an exploding roadside bomb, a mortar blast or a vehicle crash.

http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/288186

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