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WASHINGTON -- Some 52 percent of soldiers severely injured in Iraq and Afghanistan who have come to the U.S. Army's largest hospital for treatment have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries (TBI), an internal study has found.
The results of the study, carried out by Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, also showed a steep increase -- from 33 percent -- in TBI cases since the end of 2008.
Diagnoses of TBI are rising steadily as arrangements for TBI checks improve, while at the same time improvised explosive device (IED) attacks -- the primary cause of TBI -- in Afghanistan are intensifying, with 46 U.S. soldiers killed by the homemade bombs so far this year. Casualties from these attacks flow into Walter Reed, which provides treatment to badly wounded soldiers unavailable anywhere else.
On the battlefield, TBI is caused by the supersonic shockwave produced by an explosion -- often from an IED -- which damages or destroys brain cells. A soldier caught in the blast may not even know he or she has been injured.
The Department of Defense estimated in March this year that the final tally of TBI cases would reach 10 to 20 percent of all personnel deployed to Iraqi and Afghani battlefields.