Combat blast related traumatic brain injury (TBI): Decade of recognition; promise of progress

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Between April 2007 and December 2015, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) screened one million combat veterans for traumatic brain injury (TBI), among 2.6 million deployed during operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn (OEF/OIF/OND). Since 2007, among those reporting, screened and referred for definitive evaluation, approximately 8.4% of these Veterans received a diagnosis of TBI, the majority characterized as mTBI/Concussion (mTBI) and, in great proportion, related to blast exposures. Mild Traumatic brain injury called “a signature injury” is also known as ‘the invisible injury’ of these conflicts. Identifying and assessing neuropathological, cellular and resulting cognitive, emotional, behavioral and neurological consequences of mTBI comprise vast clinical and research challenges. We provide a brief overview of current history, injury mechanisms related to blast exposure, coordinated research support, and the need to understand specific cellular and neurological changes occurring with blast injury, particularly mTBI.

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