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Military Order May Prevent Brain Damage, Doctors Say

A new military order that requires troops who have been exposed to a bomb blast to remain off the battlefield for at least 24 hours may prevent permanent brain damage, military doctors in Afghanistan say.

The 24-hour waiting period will allow doctors to observe soldiers who were within 165 feet of an explosion long enough to diagnose possible concussion. Permanent brain damage can result when a soldier experiences a second concession before the first one has fully healed.

Since the order was issued, the number of concussions diagnosed in U.S. troops increased from 62 in June to 370 in July, according to the U.S. Central Command.

According to military statistics, concussions actually occur much more often in combat than doctors had previously believed, suggesting that thousands of soldiers may have suffered brain damage as a result of a second concussion earlier in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Soldiers with concussion may experience loss of consciousness, dizziness, and headaches. It often takes weeks for a concussion to heal, but most troops make a full recovery and are able to return to combat.