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Traumatic brain injuries hard to diagnose

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ANN MARIE AMES
November 11, 2007

Doctors and military officials are working to raise awareness of traumatic brain injuries—common but hard-to-diagnose injuries suffered by soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.


In combat, traumatic brain injuries are caused by shockwaves from exploding improvised explosive devices.


The shockwave can punch the brain without injuring the skull, said Rock County Veterans Services Officer John Solis.


“Your brain is like your body inside your car,” Solis said. “When the car crashes into something, it stops, but your body doesn’t.”


The brain can be bruised and swell, but the soldier may be unaware of exactly what’s wrong.


The U.S. Center for Disease Control lists these symptoms of traumatic brain injury:


-- Headaches or neck pain that do not go away


-- Difficulty remembering, concentrating or making decisions


-- Slowness in thinking, speaking, acting or reading


-- Feeling tired all of the time


-- Mood changes or changes in sleeping patterns


-- Blurred vision or increased sensitivity to lights


-- Loss of smell or taste and ringing in the ears


In the long term, CDC estimates at least 5.3 million Americans—approximately 2 percent of the population—have a long-term or lifelong need for help to perform activities of daily living as a result of a traumatic brain injury.



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