Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Please Don't Use A Phaser

When a tricorder is what you actually want. Unless the intent really is to kill the troops. - Even mild injuries to brain add up: "The ramifications are broad. How do field surgeons and medics diagnose a wound they can't see? What can be done when soldiers and Marines try to shake off the blast effects, unaware of the concussion, and keep fighting? Should the Pentagon keep tabs on how many concussions each servicemember suffers? And if so, how many concussions is too many before someone is kept from combat?

'We're not at the Star Trek point where we can run a phaser over everybody and determine their exact problem. Closed-head injuries are very hard to assess,' says Michael Kilpatrick, deputy director of deployment health support for the Pentagon.

The number of concussions keeps rising. Almost 30% of the patients admitted to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., have brain injuries.

Doctors fear that thousands of others go undiagnosed. A two-question survey developed by the Brain Injury Center shows that about 10% of troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffered a concussion during their combat tour.

About half still had symptoms that could be related to a concussion, including slowed thinking, headaches, memory loss, sleep disturbance, attention and concentration deficits, and irritability, says Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Jaffee, a neurologist with the center. More than 500,000 soldiers and Marines have served in combat since Sept. 11, 2001, many more than once."
I was wondering when they would get around to this subject. In addition to the damage from the concussions (brain injuries are cumulative and can lead to dementia), what about their hearing? These soldiers may not die on the battlefield as often, but until someone develops personal force fields, you can't escape physics.

I just don't understand what took so long for them to figure this out. Football has been concerned about concussions for years. I think their limit on getting your bell rung is three.

1 comment:

  1. Does anyone out there know of a screening test for this? My hubby came back from Iraq, was told to be a recruiter, and now we're EFMP in BFE, he's on convalescent leave, and we can't get ANYONE except his shrink to concede that he COULD have had a closed-head injury. I've found lots of articles online mentioning the problem, but nothing with a screening tool. He is losing his hearing quickly, and his personality has changed dramatically. Most people who meet him would think "well, he's such a mild-mannered guy... there's nothing wrong with him". However, they didn't know my husband "before". Compared to who he was before, he's cold and distant. I want my husband back.