A recent military study released alarming new statistics about army training and traumatic brain injuries. Of 2,000 surveyed participants in "combative" training classes, almost 6 percent of soldiers shows symptoms of concussions and traumatic brain injuries. As we have discussed in other posts, traumatic brain injuries are a significant source of debilitating symptoms that require long-term treatment.
Combative training focuses on hand-to-hand fighting skills that are often essential in actual combat. But, according to the recent military study, the training program involves a serious risk of head injuries. During the study, researchers said that a concussion or TBI occurred roughly every other day. The study concluded that nearly 6 percent of observed trainees reported serious concussion symptoms.
Although the study looked at only 2,000 soldiers, hundreds of thousands of veterans took combative training courses at some point. Over 100,000 participated just last year.
In the era of road-side explosives and other high-impact weapons, soldiers face brain injuries with increasing regularity. NPR reports that some military leaders have even called concussions the "'signature' injury of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan." Given the cumulative nature of brain injuries, this concussion/TBI rate suggests a serious problem for the armed forces. If soldiers suffer brain injuries before even leaving training and entering the combat zone, future injuries will be more and more serious. Even a minor TBIs can cumulatively lead to very severe effects.
As with all aspects of our growing awareness of TBIs, the insights from this study are not limited to the military context. The study is yet another reminder that TBIs are an increasingly important source of debilitating conditions.
Source: NPR News, "Before Reaching War Zone, Troops Risk Concussions," Daniel Zwerdling & Joaquin Sapien, Aug. 24, 2012
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