How Traumatic Brain Injuries Are Hurting American Veterans

Your brain is the powerhouse behind every voluntary and involuntary function in your body. It is where everything that a human does, begins. Your brain is responsible for sorting, organizing, and memory. The brain is also responsible for any decisions that a person makes, deciphering how to react both physically and mentally, and it controls not just bodily functions but memories, emotions, and the entire human experience. When someone has a traumatic brain injury, it can lead to an overall change in their identity and personality.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Currently, there are three main issues with the brain that are the source of much study: Alzheimer’s disease; sports-related injuries like repetitive concussions or blunt force trauma; and injuries that are specifically related to military service. What the research is beginning to uncover is that there is a link between Alzheimer’s disease.

But when it is an issue of traumatic brain injury or TBI, it might set off a degenerative neurological process called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE, which can be mistaken for the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease. For veterans, that might mean that a huge portion of their brain injuries aren’t being connected to memory loss but are instead put into the classification of Alzheimer’s disease, which negates the consequences of their military service and injury.

The research that a traumatic brain injury attorney can use during trial, in the separate studied areas, have scientists taking a second look at the different diseases’ processes and how traumatic brain injuries might be lumped under the classification of a disease which is different on both molecular and cellular levels.

Most of the attention for traumatic brain injuries has revolved around the issue of injuries related to sports and concussions, as in the dispute between ex-players and the NFL. Currently, traumatic brain injuries are the leading cause for both children and young adults for both death and disability. Statistics show that TBI affects as many as 400,00 of the two million military members who serve in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Most of the research done on traumatic brain injuries has been done by the National Institute of Health, the Alzheimer’s Association, the NFL and the VA. When someone sustains a brain injury, there are several ways that the shock can travel at a different rate through both the white matter and gray matter of the brain. The focus of research is how the various speeds affect the destruction of white and gray matter. Both affected athletes and military personnel appear to experience similar abnormalities in these areas of the brain.

Brain degeneration isn’t something that happens overnight. Nerve cells are both continually constructing and deconstructing rigid hollow tubes known as microtubules. They are used to connect the nerves with the cells that transport nutrients to them. Through the tubes are little energy packs that send signals across the various gaps between the cells, creating synapses. These seek to send, receive, and change chemical messengers to signal both the brain and the body and allow them to communicate. During a TBI there is the likelihood that the microtubules are damaged. Proteins called tau-proteins are abundant in nerve cells; rarely found in other cells, they are responsible for the stability of the microtubules.

For people with traumatic brain injuries, there are tangles found in the chain that don’t support the nerve cells’ ability to send energy packets. Those nerve cells are not able to communicate with the cells around them and can lead them to die. Researchers have discovered abnormal clusters of proteins that they call plaque; although they aren’t sure how the clusters originate, the same plaque is found in the brains of those studied with traumatic brain injuries and might be the result of these nerve cell tangles.

The research stemming from traumatic brain injury has potential consequences for military professionals who are experiencing memory loss and other neurodegenerative diseases. Once lumped in with other cognitive and memory conditions, there is the possibility that a veteran’s service to the country might be at fault for their brain conditions, which would open up the potential to receive compensation for their injuries.

As science progresses, it is likely that many brain-related injuries and cognitive impairments will fall under those things that are eligible to receive personal injury compensation. Researchers are just starting to understand how the brain works and how brain injuries affect the brain and the body in the battlefield.

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