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US Army looks at Traumatic brain injury and migraine

US Army looks at Traumatic brain injury and migraine

US Army looks at Traumatic brain injury and migraine

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is exactly what it sounds like: injury to the brain resulting from physical violence, whether a contact sports injury, an auto accident, a bar-room ( or living room) brawl – or any other violent scenario including, of course, armed combat. Many of the soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered TBI and its long-term consequences.

Those consequences include many different problems, but two of the most common are post-traumatic epilepsy and post-traumatic headache, (PTE and PTH). Epilepsy manifests as seizures, headaches are in the migraine category, and both are capable of incapacitating the victim at intervals that are impossible to predict.

The U.S. Department of Defense is currently collaborating in a study by two University of Utah researchers to reach a better understanding of TBI and its long-term effects. The researchers are K.C. Brennan, MD, an assistant in U of U’s Department of Neurology and professor and chair of the Physiology Department Edward Dudek, PhD. They hope to use their findings to develop more effective treatments for all victims of TBI.

Dr. Brennan, the lead investigator, said that with advances in protective gear for the military, more soldiers survive such a brain injury, but they come home still suffering the after-effects, which are often very severe. The ultimate goal of the study, said Brennan, is to find out whether these after-shocks can be prevented.

According to the researchers, if they can determine how the initial injury sets PTE and PTH in motion, they may be able to define the time period when the risk of seizure or other effects is greatest, so that treatment can be given when it is most needed. Dr. Dudek says that they hope to discover the underlying mechanisms and reactions of the brain so they can anticipate and possibly prevent any additional damage.

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