US Military Urged to Provide Troops More Protection From Blasts

The US military is being urged to provide its soldiers with better protection from blasts to avoid brain-related injuries.

Speaking before the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on personnel, a panel of experts claimed that even low-level blast exposure can cause symptoms similar to traumatic brain injury.

These blasts can happen not just in combat but also in training and military drills, they warned.

Pentagon data shows that between 2000 and 2023, nearly 500,000 US military personnel were diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury, with the US Army accounting for more than half of those.

Military occupational blasts can also cause injuries that are not immediately detectable and would not qualify as a traumatic brain injury, according to Samantha McBirney, a biomedical engineer and a panel member.

These “subconcussive injuries” include concentration and memory problems, slowed thinking or reaction time, and decreased hand-eye coordination.

Soldiers may also experience irritability, headaches, and hearing difficulty because of blasts generated from firing heavy weapons or using various explosives.

Urges Immediate Action

Former US Navy SEAL Frank Larkin said preventing subconcussive injuries should be a priority for the military.

He stressed that actions must be taken this early and not wait until the problem becomes more “catastrophic.”

Larkin had a son in the military who suffered from an undiagnosed brain injury following four combat tours.

McBirney echoed the words of the former Navy SEAL, saying low-level blasts will remain an enduring challenge for soldiers as weapons systems become more advanced and increasingly powerful.

“Addressing the issue of repeated exposure to these blasts necessitates action and collaboration between the DoD (Department of Defense) and the research community,” she said.

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