In the current military conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, blast injury is overwhelmingly the most common causes of traumatic brain injury on the battlefield, and the number of brain injuries is on the increase.
Improvised explosive device
Blast injuries are caused from an impact from a complex pressure point, generated by an explosion. The explosion causes an instant rise in the pressure, which creates a blast wave. The wave starts at the site of the explosion and travels outward, and blast injuries occur when a blast wave hits the body.
Air-filled organs such as ears, lungs, stomach and intestines are particularly at risk. Crucially, organs surrounded by fluid such as the brain and the spine are also highly susceptible to blast injuries.
The brain is most vulnerable to blast injuries from flying debris, being physically thrown by the force or breathing toxic gases or vapours.
Mild TBI is the misunderstood brain injury
Mild TBI (mTBI) is a trauma increasing in frequency but remains hard to diagnose. mTBI can often occur following explosive events and the injuries sustained often mimic those related to contact sports activities. Cases of mTBI from explosive events may remain undiagnosed in the presence of more acute and life-threatening injuries and some cases may even be misdiagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a blast event, when sufferers may actually have post-concussion syndrome (PCS) and mTBI.