With traumatic brain injury (TBI) turning out to be one of the plagues of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Defense Department is creating databases to track such cases. It’s a smart move. http://www.nextgov.com/nextgov/ng_20100420_9199.php?oref=topstory
The initiative is part of what will be a permanent change of policy in the manner that the military monitors brain injuries from combat. Instead of soldiers being responsible for reporting their own possible concussions, the military is moving toward “incident-based” tracking, where it keeps tabs on the injuries.
The military has already developed a spreadsheet where the U.S. Marines Corps can log in blast injuries, according to Nextgov.com. When a Marine sustains three concussions from bomb blasts, he or she are required to have a neurological exam.
Field doctors have the spreadsheet in hand to keep tabs on Marines who have suffered possible concussions, to make sure they get evaluated and have follow-up care.
In testimony before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel on April 13, the Marine Corps also said that it is set to create a non-medical database for field officers to monitor what soldiers have been exposed to blasts that could cause TBI.
The Defense Department also plans to develop one database that will incorporate information from specific battlefield incidents and correlate it to the soldiers who were present, along with their medical evaluations.
With that database, officials could distinguish if a soldier sustained brain injury from a fall in combat, or from a bomb blast, for example.
As part of its research, the Defense Department is even using information on concussions that has been collected by the National Football League, according to testimony at the hearing.
Right now the military is also studying data that was gathered from helmet sensors that 5,000 soldiers and 7,000 Marines wore for a year while in Iraq and Afghanistan. In that test there were 600 blasts picked up by internal helmet sensors, and more than 500 from external sensors.