U.S. Military Establishes Brain Tissue Repository For Study Of Traumatic Brain Injury
Though the injury is common, military medical
researchers say the root causes of illness from traumatic brain
injury are still unknown.
The U.S. military has established what may be the world's first
repository of brain tissue for the study of traumatic brain injury
(TBI), which is said to be the "signature" injury of the recent
wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In furthering the study of the condition with hope for better
prevention and treatment, the military will ask for persmission
from families of deceased service members to retain specimens. They
hope to collect several hundred samples for study by
"We have been at war for more than a decade and our men and women
have sacrificed," Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of
defense, told reporters. "The military health care system is
bringing all the resources it can to better understand how to
prevent, diagnose and treat traumatic brain injuries and to ensure
that service members have productive and long, quality lives."
Funded by a federal grant to advance the science of TBI medicine
for military patients, the Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative
Medicine Brain Tissue for Traumatic Brain Injury has been
established at the Uniformed Services University of the Health
Sciences in Bethesda, Md., near the Walter Reed National Military
"Our research efforts and treatment protocols are all geared
toward improving care for these victims," Woodson said. "And that
will have benefits to the American public at large."
Military researchers at the center will investigate how traumatic
head traumas lead to the condition of chronic traumatic
encephalopathy, a neurogenerative disorder involving the
progressive accumulation of a protein in nerve cells within certain
areas of the brain. As the condition progresses, it impairs brain
function and leads to symptoms commonly seen in patients such as
former boxers, who are said to be "punch drunk."
Like retired boxers or football players with multiple hits to the
head, many service members are returning home from war with
multiple head injuries, from improvised explosive devices to other
incidents causing head trauma, according to Dr. Daniel Perl, a
neuropathologist and director of the new brain tissue repository.
The military members "are coming home with troubling, persistent
problems and we don't know the nature of this, whether it's related
to psychiatric responses from engagement in warfare or related to
actual damage to the brain, as seen in football players."
For the military, the causes of complications related to TBI
remain an area of basic science yet to be fully discovered.
References and further information