A fifth of all servicemembers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffered concussions, mainly from being close to explosive blasts from roadside bombs. Doctors often refer to sports injuries to seek treatment options for the so-called signature wound of the long wars. But new research signals that war-zone concussions are much different from concussions than happen playing football or hockey. Most athletes quickly recover brain function. Most soldiers and Marines do not, according to a study released Wednesday in Brain: A Journal of Neurology.
The findings will likely add to military discussions about who is fit to go back into the fight after suffering a concussion. And perhaps the recognition could lessen the stigma of mental illness in the military. Unlike most athletes, normal brain function didn’t return back to normal within six to 12 months of injury for most of those studied. Compared to the controls, those who survived blasts had greater bouts of depression and more severe post traumatic stress.