Brain Injuries from Blast

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Duke University, 136 Hudson Hall, Durham, NC 27708, USA.
Annals of Biomedical Engineering (Impact Factor: 3.23). 01/2012; 40(1):185-202. DOI: 10.1007/s10439-011-0424-0
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Traumatic brain injury (TBI) from blast produces a number of conundrums. This review focuses on five fundamental questions including: (1) What are the physical correlates for blast TBI in humans? (2) Why is there limited evidence of traditional pulmonary injury from blast in current military field epidemiology? (3) What are the primary blast brain injury mechanisms in humans? (4) If TBI can present with clinical symptoms similar to those of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), how do we clinically differentiate blast TBI from PTSD and other psychiatric conditions? (5) How do we scale experimental animal models to human response? The preponderance of the evidence from a combination of clinical practice and experimental models suggests that blast TBI from direct blast exposure occurs on the modern battlefield. Progress has been made in establishing injury risk functions in terms of blast overpressure time histories, and there is strong experimental evidence in animal models that mild brain injuries occur at blast intensities that are similar to the pulmonary injury threshold. Enhanced thoracic protection from ballistic protective body armor likely plays a role in the occurrence of blast TBI by preventing lung injuries at blast intensities that could cause TBI. Principal areas of uncertainty include the need for a more comprehensive injury assessment for mild blast injuries in humans, an improved understanding of blast TBI pathophysiology of blast TBI in animal models and humans, the relationship between clinical manifestations of PTSD and mild TBI from blunt or blast trauma including possible synergistic effects, and scaling between animals models and human exposure to blasts in wartime and terrorist attacks. Experimental methodologies, including location of the animal model relative to the shock or blast source, should be carefully designed to provide a realistic blast experiment with conditions comparable to blasts on humans. If traditional blast scaling is appropriate between species, many reported rodent blast TBI experiments using air shock tubes have blast overpressure conditions that are similar to human long-duration nuclear blasts, not high explosive blasts.

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    • "The cognitive and emotional difficulties that can result from TBI may also reduce awareness and interfere with reliability of selfreport [12]. Last, symptoms resulting from mTBI, such as headache, dizziness, depression, and anxiety, are nonspecific and, although frequently exacerbated by injury, are also common premorbidly (in the population at large). "
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    ABSTRACT: Military mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) differs from civilian injury in important ways. Although mTBI sustained in both military and civilian settings are likely to be underreported, the combat theater presents additional obstacles to reporting and accessing care. The impact of blast forces on the nervous system may differ from nonblast mechanisms, mTBI although studies comparing the neurologic and cognitive sequelae in mTBI survivors have not provided such evidence. However, emotional distress appears to figure prominently in symptoms following military mTBI. This review evaluates the extant literature with an eye towards future research directions.
    Alzheimer's and Dementia 06/2014; 10(3):S97–S104. DOI:10.1016/j.jalz.2014.04.012 · 12.41 Impact Factor
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    • "Additionally, most existing DTI studies of veterans have been performed years after the injury. Animal models of mbTBI allow for direct testing of the many effects of blast wave characteristics under carefully controlled conditions48. However, we currently have no clear understanding of how human years (physiologically and pathologically speaking) translate into rat months (or weeks). "
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    ABSTRACT: Mild blast-induced traumatic brain injury (mbTBI) poses special diagnostic challenges due to its overlapping symptomatology with other neuropsychiatric conditions and the lack of objective outcome measures. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) can potentially provide clinically relevant information toward a differential diagnosis. In this study, we aimed to determine if single and repeated (5 total; administered on consecutive days) mild blast overpressure exposure results in detectable structural changes in the brain, especially in the hippocampus. Fixed rat brains were analyzed by ex vivo DTI at 2 h and 42 days after blast (or sham) exposure(s). An anatomy-based region of interest analysis revealed significant interactions in axial and radial diffusivity in a number of subcortical structures at 2 h only. Differences between single- and multiple-injured rats were largely in the thalamus but not the hippocampus. Our findings demonstrate the value and the limitations of DTI in providing a better understanding of mbTBI pathobiology.
    Scientific Reports 05/2014; 4:4809. DOI:10.1038/srep04809 · 5.58 Impact Factor
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    • "Real world exposures are more complicated as reflected shock waves create a complex interaction with primary shock waves. To replicate war related conditions, some investigators have carried out studies using surrogates of military vehicles, buildings, or bunkers (67, 68, 74, 84, 85). Each is appropriate for recreating real world condition but methodological differences interfere with generalization of results (74). "
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    ABSTRACT: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) due to explosive blast exposure is a leading combat casualty. It is also implicated as a key contributor to war related mental health diseases. A clinically important consequence of all types of TBI is a high risk for development of seizures and epilepsy. Seizures have been reported in patients who have suffered blast injuries in the Global War on Terror but the exact prevalence is unknown. The occurrence of seizures supports the contention that explosive blast leads to both cellular and structural brain pathology. Unfortunately, the exact mechanism by which explosions cause brain injury is unclear, which complicates development of meaningful therapies and mitigation strategies. To help improve understanding, detailed neuropathological analysis is needed. For this, histopathological techniques are extremely valuable and indispensable. In the following we will review the pathological results, including those from immunohistochemical and special staining approaches, from recent preclinical explosive blast studies.
    Frontiers in Neurology 04/2014; 5:47. DOI:10.3389/fneur.2014.00047
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