Chances of Brain and Spinal Cord Injuries in the Military
Every year officers from every branch of the military visit DeQuincy, Sam Houston, Sulphur, and other local high schools with the single purpose of trying to recruit graduating seniors. Each recruiter has his own pitch on why his branch is the best, but fails to mention the long-term risks. We all know that in any form of military service there’s a chance of injury—even death. However, the risks of certain injuries are increased depending on which branch you choose. For example, the risk of drowning is definitely higher in the Navy than it is in the Air Force. Not that it couldn’t happen in the Air Force, just the odds are fewer.
Amputations, gunshot wounds and burns are the top forms of military injuries, but in recent years, military studies have shown a drastic increase of long-term brain and spinal injuries within US veterans. The United States Department of Defense has seen such an increase in these injuries during Afghanistan and Iraq incursions, that they have established over $100 million dollars in funding for research, care, and preventative measures for suffering veterans.
Causes of Veteran TBI and Spinal Cord Injuries
The United States Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that currently 20 percent of all military veterans suffer from traumatic brain injuries, while spinal cord injuries are increasing at an alarming rate. A recent article on battle related brain injuries, published by the Army Medical Department, speculates that the percentages may be increasing due to advanced combat gear allowing the victims to survive explosive forces while unfortunately still sustaining critical trauma to the head and spine. They also discuss the common cause of military TBIs and SCIs by IED and other forms of explosions. Following are a few causes of injuries caused by different forms of explosions:
- Hemorrhages, lacerations, hematomas and contusions in the brain.
- Concussions that cause closed head injuries where the brain is knocked around in the skull.
- Penetrating injuries where pieces of shrapnel become lodged in the brain and spine.
- Blast exposure that can release toxic chemicals.
- Blast waves can disrupt pressure within the skull leading to psychological trauma. The blast can also force a victim to be thrown unto his spine causing irreparable damage to the cord and vertebrae.
The information gathered by the DVA and AMD suggest that veterans who are placed in high combat areas within close proximity of IEDs or other explosive forces, have an increased chance of suffering traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries, compared to those who are not subject to explosive blasts. Therefore, Army and Marine vets are more likely to suffer from these injuries on a daily basis, than Air Force and Navy vets.
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