Artillery: July 30, 2004

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In Iraq, if you are wounded, most of the time youre going to feel it in the head, even if you don't think you have a head injury. Some 65 percent of those wounded in Iraq, also turned out to have some kind of brain injury. The unusually low casualty rate in Iraq is partly because of better body armor, and decades of research on the types of combat wounds, their long term effects, and the best way to prevent them, and treat them. All this effort has resulted in the realization that there are more brain injuries than previously thought. This was only discovered after years of monitoring men who had been injured in combat, and because better methods of examining brains (scanners and the like) made it possible to detect the damage. In Iraq, new combat helmets not only better protect troops from fatal brain injuries, but also lessen the damage from non-fatal injuries. Iraq has also seen more frequent use of roadside bombs, mortars and RPG rockets. These are all blast weapons, and that blast often results in a head injury that, in the past, was overlooked. Now, military medical teams know better, and carefully check anyone who has been close to an explosion. There is therapy and medication available to reduce, or eliminate the long term effects of these concussion type injuries. This sort of treatment is typical of how different medical care is for those wounded in Iraq, versus those hurt in past wars. Theres been a tremendous amount of research in these kind of injuries over the last few decades, and in how to deal with it. But this sort of thing rarely makes the news, and few people know about it.

 


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