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Veterans exposed to IEDs may suffer from PTSD, finds study

04-20-18 Category: PTSD, Research, Trauma

Veterans exposed to IEDs may suffer from PTSD, finds study

Till now, it was believed that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an outcome of only mental trauma. However, a recent research has suggested something that no other study did till now; it says that PTSD might be a fallout of physical trauma as well. The researchers from The Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine Brain Tissue Repository claimed that war veterans exposed to invisible energy waves emanating from improvised explosive devices (IED) are injured physically, which may lead to the development of PTSD later.

The researchers studied the brains of eight dead war veterans, who grappled with PTSD. They compared their brain tissues with those of civilians and found scar tissues in the brains of the war veterans, but not in the civilians.

The study was initiated when war veteran Army Sergeant First Class Brian Mancini shot himself dead in 2017 after plunging into psychosis. The sergeant had a miraculous escape and recovered from the effects of the roadside bomb in Iraq. He devoted his life to wounded warriors, working as an Army medic and founded a rehab center. Yet, years later, he became delusional and alleged that the military was spying on him and that he was being tracked with cell phones. When it became too much to bear, he took his own life.

Pressure waves from IEDs lead to physical scars

Lead author Dr. Daniel Perl, the head of the brain tissue repository at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, the military medical school in Bethesda, Maryland, wonders whether the ghosts from the past that haunt war veterans also have something to do with the undiscovered brain injury triggered by the supersonic pressure wave of high powered explosives. “When an IED goes off there’s a tremendous explosion. And with the explosion comes the formation of something called the blast wave. This is sufficiently powerful to pass through the skull and through the brain. And when it does that– it damages the brain tissue,” he said.

According to him, every damage leads to a loss of function. The victims experience problems in sleeping, concentrating and memory, and feel unable to control their mood, resentment and anger. This discovery has changed the way we perceive consequences of blast exposures, he said.

Further research needed

Dr. Peril said that further research was needed to establish if the scars in the brain are the reason behind developing PTSD. Experts feel that both overlap a lot. Further, a similar scar is yet to be observed in a living patient. Also, there is no clear information on the effects of the scars on the mind or what can be done about it.

Currently, the researcher is looking for preserved brains of war veterans from World War I to probe whether the scarring dates back to early days when high explosives were introduced in wars. He is hopeful that further research would help improve the lives of veterans with hidden wounds of war.

Dealing with trauma

Living with PTSD is not easy. However, symptoms can be managed with intervention. Varied  treatment options, ranging from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to more specific evidence-based trauma treatment programs, can be used to treat the debilitating mental disorder.

Sovereign Health, the leading behavioral health treatment provider in the United States, offers comprehensive trauma treatment to patients at its residential treatment centers for trauma. You can call our 24/7 helpline to know more about our treatment centers for trauma spread across the United States. You can also chat online with our experts for immediate assistance.

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