Medical advances prior to Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and New Dawn led to the survival of many causalities who previously would have died from traumatic brain injury (TBI). In addition to TBI, other injuries sustained from IED blast exposures include impact on pulmonary function. We now need to help blast survivors live a viable post-deployment life with their blast-related injuries.
We are supporting research that is focused on understanding the long-term effects of blast exposure. Cardiopulmonary symptoms of shortness of breath and decreased exercise tolerance after return from deployment are a major concern for many Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. While much of the focus has been on burn pit exposure and particulate matter as causal factors, there is growing evidence supporting a contributing role of blast-related lung injury. Acute blast overpressure (BOP) lung injury resulting in gross injury is well established. We are supporting research aimed at addressing the less known, possible long-term, or latent effects of less severe BOP lung injuries.
Other work is also being conducted in the neurology and neurobehavioral laboratories, which is focused upon identifying long-lasting chemical changes in the brain following TBI and novel targets for treatment.