As veterans have returned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade, experts have noticed a increase in the number of soldiers who have been diagnosed as having suffered a traumatic brain injury. The U.S. military recently announced that it has begun work to create a brain tissue repository to allow scientists to study samples from those who have suffered TBIs. The hope is that this research will benefit everyone, both military and civilian.
The first step in the process is for the military to ask the spouses and family of recently deceased soldiers for samples of brain tissue. The organizers of the repository hope to have over several hundred samples soon.
The aim of the recent initiative is to learn as much as possible to make it easier to diagnose, treat and prevent TBIs. The new Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine Brain Tissue for Traumatic Brain Injury repository was founded near Bethesda, Maryland in part because of a federal grant to study TBIs among military personnel.
Researchers at the center will study specifically how TBIs can lead to long-term degenerative disorders. Some of these disorders, such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, have been observed in both soldiers and professional athletes. As this condition progresses, it can affect a person’s basic cognitive and motor functions.
Though it may seem far-fetched to suggest that this sort of research could help the public at large, scientists are confident that their efforts can help everyone, not just soldiers and athletes. Indeed, millions of Americans suffer TBIs each year – mostly in car accidents and falls.