Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the signature wound of today's conflicts, affecting more than 370,000 service members, and emerging evidence suggests troops may be exposed to hazards to the brain during training as well.
TBI can come from many causes: falls, vehicle accidents, bullets, shrapnel, etc. In recent years, researchers have begun to understand that the primary blast pressure wave from explosions can also damage the brain, although the specific mechanism of injury from blast pressure is poorly understood.
Most concerning, emerging evidence suggests that service members may be exposed to significant levels of blast overpressure when firing heavy weapons, such as recoilless rifles, even in training.
Recent Defense Department studies have found that blast exposure from firing heavy weapons in training, such as the Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle, is associated with short-term cognitive deficits.
Even when used within currently approved firing limits, DoD studies have demonstrated that some service members may experience short-term deficits in delayed verbal memory, visual-spatial memory, and executive function after firing heavy weapons.
Read the full commentary at Military.com.
More from CNAS
CommentaryBack to the Future: Transforming the U.S. Army for High-Intensity Warfare in the 21st Century
The Army’s transformation remains a work in progress and potential pitfalls still lurk on the horizon....
By Billy Fabian
VideoSenators grill social media giants over election handling
Kara Frederick, fellow at the Center for a New American Security, provides key takeaways from Facebook, Twitter CEO testimony. Watch the full interview on Fox and Friends Fir...
By Kara Frederick
ReportsDefense Technology Strategy
The DoD needs a systematic approach—a technology strategy—for how to prioritize technology investments....
By Paul Scharre & Ainikki Riikonen
CommentaryNext Generation Defense Strategy: Missile Defense
The next administration needs to more fully consider missile defense in the context of strategic deterrence....
By Sarah Mineiro