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Ruptured eardrums after battlefield blast signal possible brain injury in troops, doctors say
South Coast Today ^ | August 23, 2007 | MARILYNN MARCHIONE AP

Posted on 08/23/2007 5:26:24 AM PDT by RDTF

An unusual study by doctors treating blast victims at a field hospital in Iraq has found that ruptured eardrums may help reveal which troops are at risk of hidden brain injury.

The finding is important because many such brain injuries have been missed in the past, especially when more severe or obvious wounds demanded attention.

Researchers report their observation in a letter in Thursday's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Diagnosing brain injury, especially mild damage, is based largely on subjective symptoms like irritability and forgetfulness. Imaging tests like CAT scans do not help, and neurological function tests are not very useful without baseline information.

"It's very early in the game of understanding how to evaluate this carefully," and better ways are badly needed, said Jordan Grafman, a brain injury expert at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Grafman had no role in the study.

Researchers led by Air Force Lt. Col. Dr. Michael Xydakis checked all troops brought for treatment from roadside bombs and other explosions to the Air Force Theater Hospital in Balad, Iraq, during the last three months of 2005.

The study focused on the 210 surviving U.S. troops who were evaluated for eardrum rupture and loss of consciousness. Of those, 35 percent had ruptures and 36 percent had lost consciousness; the two were closely linked.

Those with ruptured eardrums had a nearly threefold greater risk of concussive brain injury.

The eardrum is only half a millimeter thick — thinner than a contact lens — and ruptures easily, Xydakis said. It is only half an inch from the brain, so "whatever hits the eardrum is going to hit the brain," such as the pressurized shock wave that follows an explosion, he explained.


(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Extended News; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: brain; braininjury; drmichaelxydakis; iraq; wia

1 posted on 08/23/2007 5:26:25 AM PDT by RDTF
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Good observation and diagnostics. These doctors are a credit to the medical military staffs.

2 posted on 08/23/2007 7:47:58 AM PDT by George W. Bush (Rudy: tough on terror, scared of Iowa, wets himself over YouTube)
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To: George W. Bush
From an engineers point of view, I would have thought that this was going on since at least WWI. I’m actually stunned that this wasn’t used as an indicator.

i.e. If there’s enough overpressure to burst the ear drum, there’s a 100% certainty that the blast front hit the brain.

3 posted on 08/23/2007 8:25:18 AM PDT by Freeport
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Thanks for posting! I’ll give this to my son.

My son got blasted off his feet at least 8 times (that he will admit to us anyway) and the VA has MRI/CAT scaned etc his head multiple times - so far, so good - but he hasn’t done so good in speach therapy.

His short term memory is doing better. We have seen very good VA care here (AK) for all the returning troops.

4 posted on 08/23/2007 9:26:49 AM PDT by ASOC (Yeah, well, maybe - but can you *prove* it?)
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Please thank him for all he’s done and the sacrifices he is still making!

5 posted on 08/23/2007 9:41:10 AM PDT by RDTF (Republicans believe every day is July 4th, but Democrats believe every day is April 15th. - Reagan)
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