Colonels Claim Pentagon Uses Misguided Brain Injury Tests

04.16.09 | FL News Team

The discussion of brain injuries suffered by returning military vets will ramp up a little today. Two military researchers, Colonels Charles Hoge and Carl Castro are saying the military should do away with questions asked of marines, sailors and soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, designed to discover cases of traumatic brain injury.

In an article published in today's issue of the "New England Journal of Medicine," the colonels say both the Pentagon and Veterans Administration are working with flawed science trying to discover brain injury cases. The authors believe the screening creates unnecessary concern among troops and they may wrongly blame fairly minor symptoms, like headaches, on brain injury instead of the more common cause, sleep deprivation. 
"USA Today" reports the Army's surgeon general, General Eric Schoomaker, agrees with the argument that there should be some modification of the screening. Other government brain-injury researchers beg to disagree citing concerns injured troops could be left without proper care. The Pentagon has guestimated more than 300-thousand Iraq and Afghanistan war vets sustained a mild traumatic brain injury or concussion while fighting.  The majority of those injuries have gone untreated.

The symptoms include depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse. Researchers say part of the blame goes to lifesaving body armor that allows troops to survive bomb blasts but return home with other serious issues.