Pathophysiology of battlefield associated traumatic brain injury

Josh L. Duckworth, Jamie Grimes, Geoffrey S.F. Ling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


As more data is accumulated from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF in Afghanistan), it is becoming increasing evident that traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious and highly prevalent battle related injury. Although traditional TBIs such as closed head and penetrating occur in the modern battle space, the most common cause of modern battle related TBI is exposure to explosive blast. Many believe that explosive blast TBI is unique from the other forms of TBI. This is because the physical forces responsible for explosive blast TBI are different than those for closed head TBI and penetrating TBI. The unique force associated with explosive blast is the blast shock pressure wave. This shock wave occurs over a very short period, milliseconds, and has a specific profile known as the Freidlander curve. This pressure-time curve is characterized by an initial very rapid up-rise followed by a longer decay that reaches a negative inflection point before returning to baseline. This is important as the effect of this shock pressure on brain parenchyma is distinct. The diffuse interaction of the pressure wave with the brain leads to a complex cascade of events that affects neurons, axons, glia cells, and vasculature. It is only by properly studying this disease will meaningful therapies be realized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-30
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2013


  • Explosive blast
  • Military
  • Neuroinflammation
  • Pressure waves axon shearing
  • Shock waves
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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