Brain effects of repetitive low-level occupational blast exposure

Military and law enforcement personnel with extensive occupational blast exposure had statistically significant differences in brain imaging measures compared to nonexposed control personnel. A new study identified significant differences in brain structure, function, and blood biomarkers among those with occupational blast exposure, according to the peer-reviewed Journal of Neurotrauma.

“This is an important communication,” says Dr. John Povlishock, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Neurotrauma. “It is of obvious significance to our military as it has occupational health implications related to low level blast exposure in our service members over their careers. This report is the first to deeply phenotype breachers, who regularly use explosives to gain entry into buildings and are exposed to blasts over their careers. It provides unique insight into the functional and structural neuroimaging alterations occurring in this population. This paper provides impressive insight into this problem and provides important baseline information on which future studies can be based.”

“Career breachers reported an average of 4,628 (100-34,800) breaching blast exposures over their careers, whereas controls reported an average of three (0-35) exposures,” state James Stone, MD, Ph.D., University of Virginia, and coauthors.

Differences in imaging measures included increased cortical thickness, increased radial diffusion, and increased neural inflammation/neural injury.