Deciding whether troops are healthy enough to return to duty after they suffer a mild head injury is a big issue these days for Pentagon researchers.
Several diagnostic tools capable of detecting concussions are being looked at closely by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Among them are:
• A hand-held device that tests for protein fragments released into the bloodstream after a head injury.
• A computer device called EYE-Trac that assesses visual cuing to determine inattention and loss of memory.
• Advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Objective tests for a concussion, says Katherine Helmick, deputy director for TBI at the Defense Centers agency, would remove the somewhat subjective nature of current assessments distributed to injured troops after an event.
“You can often ask a service member if they have a headache, and they tell you, ‘I’m good to go,’ and they are totally faking it,” Helmick said.
Mild traumatic brain injury accounts for 80 percent of the TBI diagnosed in the military.
Read more in Army Times.