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Use of heavy weaponry could lead to traumatic brain injury

Our nation's service members deserve to be honored for the sacrifices they make for our country. Service members from Houma and nationwide have risked their lives to protect our nation. However, they could suffer injuries as a result, including injuries caused by the weapons they use.

According to a recent study, service members who have worked with heavy weaponry could have been subjected to blasts that lead to traumatic brain injuries. Reportedly, heavy use of weapons that are fired from a service member's shoulder could cause "overpressure" of the service member's brain. Basically, the sound wave from the blast of the weapon being used is more rapid than the speed of sound, shaking the service member's skull and putting pressure on the service member's brain.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, since 2000 nearly 380,000 service members suffered a traumatic brain injury. However, the study reports that this number may actually be higher, as service members may be hesitant to report such injuries due to the stigma surrounding them or because they don't believe that the effect of being exposed to multiple lower level blasts could cause such an injury. In fact, in 2009 military physicians would hardly ever treat head injuries unless it was a penetrating injury or bleeding was present.

This is significant, because the long-term effects of a traumatic brain injury can affect a service member's cognitive skills, mental health and physical health. It is important to understand the various causes of traumatic brain injuries, so they can be appropriately treated. Not every traumatic brain injury immediately manifests itself with a physical moniker. Moreover, an untreated brain injury could be confused with other medical conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

When a traumatic brain injury goes undiagnosed, it can have a negative impact on a person's life. The person may be unable to perform their job duties and may find that their day-to-day life has become difficult due to the pain and long-term effects of the injury. It is important that our service members are protected from such injuries and, should they suffer one, that it is properly diagnosed and treated. Those who believe they were not given the necessary protection to prevent such injuries or were misdiagnosed may want to determine what their legal options are moving forward.

Source: MilitaryTimes, "Shoulder-fired weapons can cause traumatic brain injuries, study finds," J.D. Simkins, May 1, 2018

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