Physically, today's soldiers are much better protected, he said. "The helmets are far, far ahead of what was being used in World War II or in the Korean War, Vietnam," Couch noted.
He hopes to continue his research with a 10-year controlled, prospective study.
"We need to pair up the traumatic brain injury person with a person who is race-sex-deployment matched, and try to find out what types of problems arise just from being deployed to a high-danger, high-intensity situation where a person's got to be vigilant and highly alert all the time," Couch said.
Cohen said that the long-term prospects of head-injured soldiers warrant study. "Are these people more likely to die?" he said. "We know that people with severe head trauma are more likely to develop certain types of dementia. Not just eight years down the line, but what happens 30 years down the line?"
The study is scheduled for presentation this week at the American Headache Society's annual meeting in Los Angeles. The data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center has more about combat-related traumatic brain injury.
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