UVA launches research on long-term effects of blast exposure on military members

Updated: Sep. 29, 2020 at 1:27 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Service members on the front lines put themselves at risk every day. Now researchers at the University of Virginia are trying to determine if exposure to artillery blasts put them at higher risk for changes in their brain and quality of life.

With the help of the U.S. Department of Defense’s $2.1 million grant, the three-year study will use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), blood, and saliva tests to measure changes in brain chemistry after exposure to artillery blasts. Researchers at the UVA School of Medicine are partnering with the U.S. Navy and National Institute of Health to determine which groups of service members are at high risk for suffering brain injuries during and after their time in the military. The goal is to hopefully mitigate the risk.

Thirty service members who are nearing the end of their careers will be part of this study. They will be compared to a control group made up of 30 military members who have not been exposed to low-level artillery blasts.

"Our goal with the work is to develop that knowledge base that we need in order to be able to help the service members in to ensure that they’re not getting exposed past a threshold that could mean a significant change in their quality of life,” James Stone, an associate professor of radiology and medical imaging at UVA, said.

The three-year study kicked off this month and researchers will begin recruitment in the coming weeks.

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