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NYT: Friendly Fire Leads to Brain wounding

Pentagon researchers say weapons like shoulder-fired rockets expose troops who fire them to blast waves far above safety limits, but they remain in wide use.

As we have reported for years, BLAST injury does not respect your nationality, gender, origin of the weapon, or your intention. As Dave Philipps of the New York Times reports, U.S. Troops are still training on weapons with known risks of delivering brain wounds.

As Phillips reports, studies by the Navy, the Center for New American Security, the Swedish military, DoD, SEALs, DARPA, Johns Hopkins, and UHUHS all warn of real damage inflicted by “friendly fire”.

The search, research, measurements, data bases, added budgets, and periodic expressions of concern from DoD leadership can be viewed in one of two lights: they know and they don’t care; or, they know and they dont’ know what to do in the interim. Modern warfare, as Ukraine proves daily, requires more and more destructive firepower just to defend territory, let alone regain strategic and tactical advantage.

So, what can done in the interim? “For generations, the military assumed that this kind of blast exposure was safe, even as evidence mounted that repetitive blasts may do serious and lasting harm. . . . Top leaders talk of the importance of protecting troops’ brains, but the military fails to take practical steps to ensure safety.”

Literature on BLAST injuries over the past decade overwhelmingly tends in the direction of Recommendations to find ways to protect soldiers with new and improved helmets, reduced weapon firings, education, more research, more funding, and, over time, resort to robots to do the heavy firing.

Sadly for the soldier, for 100 years we’ve known that BLAST causes brain wounds. Even though a century of research has not definitively “proved” the Mechanisms of Action involved in causing physical, mental, behavioral, cognitive, and moral damage, we do know that the net effects of only palliating symptoms won’t lead back to a normal, healthy brain.

So here’s a list of helpful suggestions to DoD/VA to help Warriors, Veterans, indeed anyone exposed to BLAST injury or brain wounding. Let all the research continue on mitigating the potential and actual damage caused by exposure to BLAST. Add more drugs and hallucinogenics and psychotropics to the list of possible “solutions.” But let’s focus some of our work on healing the wounds to the brain and body caused by BLAST exposure. An estimated 877,000 Veterans and active duty service members — probably many more as we learn about the pervasiveness of self-inflicted BLAST injury — are already suffering with some degree of brain wounding. Let’s focus on HEALING THEIR BRAIN WOUNDS as we work the prevention side of the equation. Here’s a modest proposal:

  1. Daily suicide rates, accumulating suffering, and impacts on families demand that we deal with brain wounds. We cannot continue to ignore treatments that work are safe, scientifically validated, and readily available. We cannot hide this information from the wounded. Informed consent and medical ethics demand that DOD/VA tell the wounded what is available, even though it is “off-label.” Every treatment, drug, process, procedure, device and protocol currently used by DoD/VA is off-label and not approved by the FDA for treating TBI/PTSD.
  2. Keep doing what you’re doing. But hold open the possibility that alternative therapies exist that are scientifically valid, clinically proven, widely available, cost effective and demonstrated safe and effective. Fund them.
  3. Rethink a Suicide Prevention Strategy that is void of any options to treat brain wounds. Too may Veterans commit suicide — over 109,000 — perhaps falling into depression from undiagnosed and untreated brain wounds.
  4. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is one such therapy, backed by decades of research, acceptance by the FDA for wound healing, and proven in multiple scientific studies to reduce or eliminate symptoms caused by TBI/PTSD/Concussion/BLAST.
  5. HBOT is proven to reduce and/or eliminate suicidal ideation in tens of thousands of uses [here and here].
  6. Read, really read, the current scientific literature on the validity of objective research conducted over the past fifteen years. Notice that the UHMS and the overwhelming number of real HBOT researchers know that HBOT works to help heal TBI/PTSD. Even government researchers, a few of whom still cling to the canard that “HBOT does not work,” accept that patients in their studies got better [here and here and here].
  7. If necessary, take 10% of the VA drug budget and use it to fund HBOT treatments in private clinics where the cost is miniscule compared to current standards of care. It is a well-known fact that fully treated HBOT patients get off almost all their drugs, many of which warn of “ideation of suicide.” There will be a net return of billions of dollars to the VA bottomline due to reduced need for prescriptions.
  8. Redo your cost analyses when considering where to spend dollars on rehabilitation of brain wounded combat Veterans. It has been calculated that the cost of NOT treating brain wounded Veterans will exceed $4Trillion over their 40-year lifespan. That’s a degraded life, for the Veteran and the family, living with symptoms that plague far too many Veterans. For less than 1/2 of 1% of that cost, all 877,450 brain-wounded Veterans can be fully treated with HBOT.
  9. DoD and the VA should insure and reimburse HBOT-for-TBI treatments. Start with Informed Consent: let every Veterans know that HBOT can help heal their brain wound.
  10. And consider the following: service members returning from combat suffer from polytrauma unlike ever before. Knowing what we know now about the prevalence of BLAST injury, Burn Pit toxins, unreported brain trauma, the sustained pace of combat for Special Operations warriors, we need to provide functional medicine approaches to whole body wellness, starting with but not limited to brain wounds. All body systems are negatively affected by BLAST. HBOT works to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, speed healing, restore function, promote the growth of new stem cells, and allow battle-weary warriors to return to peak performance more quickly. [Not for nothing do world class athletes like LeBron James, Novak Djokovic, Michael Phelps, Aaron Rogers, and hundreds of professional athletes use HBOT for rehabilitation, restoration, and recovery. Jay Leno and Jeremy Renner used HBOT to heal from burns and crush injuries. HBOT heals wounds, even when we can’t see them directly.]
  11. Part of the history of HBOT is that the history of HBOT safety and efficacy is ignored or forgotten. This is a page out of the Textbook of Military Medicine, updated in 2006. This same algorithm is in the textbook in the 1980s. The “definitive therapy” then and is HBOT treatment for TBI resulting from BLAST Exposure.

The TreatNOW Mission is ending service member suicides. Along the way, we have learned that we can end suicidal ideation, help heal the effects of BLAST injury, TBI/PTSD, and acute concussion.

Heal Brains. Stop Suicides. Restore Lives. TreatNOW

Information provided by does not constitute a medical recommendation. It is intended for informational purposes only, and no claims, either real or implied, are being made.