360K US Troops Suffer Brain Injuries

As many as 20% of war vets have had concussions or worse
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 4, 2009 5:53 PM CST
A US soldier shakes hands with an Iraqi girl in a school yard as troops distributed humanitarian aid in Baghdad earlier this month.   (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
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(Newser) – The number of US troops who have suffered wartime brain injuries may be as high as 360,000, say Defense Department doctors. They estimate that between 10% and 20% of the roughly 1.8 million Americans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan had such injuries—the vast majority of them suffering concussions from roadside bombings and other explosives.

The overwhelming majority of such wounds heal, and heal without treatment, but an estimated 45,000 to 90,000 troops have suffered more severe and lasting symptoms. The Army alone spent $242 million last year for staff, facilities and programs to serve troops with brain injuries. As in previous wars, the research being done by the military will eventually benefit the civilian world, says one expert in the field.