2010 November 23 Tuesday
130,000 Damaged Brains From Iraq And Afghanistan

A research report on improved military helmet design mentions 130,000 cases of brain damage to US soldiers who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. That's a huge war cost that will last for many decades.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. More than half of all combat-related injuries sustained by U.S. troops are the result of explosions, and many of those involve injuries to the head. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, about 130,000 U.S. service members deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan have sustained traumatic brain injuries ranging from concussion to long-term brain damage and death as a result of an explosion. A recent analysis by a team of researchers led by MIT reveals one possible way to prevent those injuries adding a face shield to the helmet worn by military personnel.

In a paper to be published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Raul Radovitzky, an associate professor in MIT's Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and his colleagues report that adding a face shield to the standard-issue helmet worn by the vast majority of U.S. ground troops could significantly reduce traumatic brain injury, or TBI. The extra protection offered by such a shield is critical, the researchers say, because the face is the main pathway through which pressure waves from an explosion are transmitted to the brain.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2010 November 23 09:51 PM  Mideast Iraq Costs

tommy said at November 24, 2010 12:08 AM:

One possible problem is that a face shield will interfere with the use of a rifle. Anyone who has ever fired an M-16 while in a gas mask will appreciate the fact that it is impossible to use the sights of the rifle with something in front of the face. If one is added, then it should be made easily retractable. When an IED explodes in the midst of a convey it is common for troops to encounter enemy fire immediately thereafter.

A.Prole said at November 24, 2010 12:24 AM:

George W. Bush had brain damage before he launched the Iraq attack.

Demolition Man said at November 24, 2010 2:24 AM:

Indeed 130,000 brain damaged is a huge war cost. All the IUDs (improvised explosive devices) in Afghanistan and in Iraq are causing terrible shock waves that go through even the armored personnel carriers.

A guerrilla war cannot be won with politically correct methods: even the Soviets were too politically correct to win the war in Afghanistan because the world was watching them and they had to show moderation in their brutality, which they did use in such a way that they killed at least 1 to 2 million Afghani people, and 5-10 million Afghanis were forced to flee to Pakistan (1/3 of the prewar population were displaced!) Imagine Soviet occupation methods that displace 1/3 of the population, and the Soviets were still defeated.


The enemies of the US must have planned the 9-11 terrorist attack in order to draw the US into this guerrilla war. The fact that the US has not yet collapsed due to the economic strain of the Iran and Afghanistan wars like the Soviet Union did, is a miracle. But despite this, brain-damaged presidents should not be elected in the first place.

Demolition Man said at November 24, 2010 4:11 AM:

Of course, it was a typo when I wrote "Iran" instead of "Iraq" in the last sentence above, but in the future this can change also. For instance, the North Korean shelling yesterday, is an indication that a nuclear-armed Iran will be more emboldened and it will probably be tempted to snatch oil fields from Iraq, Kuwait, and even Saudi Arabia, with impunity.

jerry said at November 24, 2010 10:33 AM:

Hard to see how this is any worse than in wars past, in fact I wonder if its any worse than dain bramage caused by football. A face shield will also be quite uncomfortable and no matter how clear it is it will impede vision, become dirty, fog up and have problems in the rain.

Randall Parker said at November 24, 2010 4:15 PM:


What has changed is that the ratio of injured to killed has soared. So the death toll way understates the damage being done to our soldiers if we use past wars as a guide.

Kudzu Bob said at November 25, 2010 10:53 AM:

Another way to protect our soldiers from such injuries is to bring them home.

Randall Parker said at November 25, 2010 2:29 PM:

Kudzu Bob,

The benefits of the Middle Eastern wars (if such benefits exist) certainly do not add up to 130,000 brain injuries. We could get real protection from terrorists at a small fraction of the price. More investigation of terrorist suspects and a reduction of Muslim travel into the US would reduce our risks considerably.

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