The number of U.S. soldiers diagnosed yearly with traumatic brain injury has increased astronomically since 2000, according to numbers posted online and updated quarterly by the Department of Defense. Over 250,000 cases have been recorded overall from 2000 to 2012. The number of reported cases in 2000 was just short of 11,000. The number for 2011? Over 33,000.
The good news is that the U.S. Army has a number of projects under development that could provide hope to soldiers who may suffer or may have suffered TBI.
According to a FoxNews.com article, the Army is working with partners to develop a pill that could be taken even before any risk of head injury. NNZ-2566 would protect brain tissue and trigger healing should an injury be inflicted.
A device in the trial stage could be used on the field to help diagnose brain injury. It analyzes a small sample of blood to determine neurological trauma, so medical personnel would know be able to pinpoint the type of injury and be able to provide appropriate treatment.
Because head injuries often impair soldiers’ eyesight, the Army is also working on a pair of binoculars that could give a virtual eye exam on the field, sparing soldiers a trip to the optometrist.
Another device measures injury that may have occurred from exposure to a blast, not necessarily through physical contact. The force of an explosion can damage the brain, so the blast dosimeter would help determine how serious such exposure was.
Even smartphones are getting in on the action. The Army contracted the company BrainScope to develop a phone-like device that can record electrical activity in the brain to help determine whether there has been a concussion.
In a world with more advanced weapons, our soldiers need better protection against those weapons.