Because of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, 15- to 17-percent of our soldiers have experienced a concussion. As a result, the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have spent large sums of money investigating these injuries and funding research.

This research has been particularly useful in objectively demonstrating that our clients with mild traumatic brain injuries have been injured. However, a question that has arisen from this research is whether there is a difference between “blast” injuries and “blunt” injuries. A blast injury is considered to be any kind of physical trauma that occurs from a direct or indirect exposure to an explosion. On the other hand, a blunt injury is considered to be any kind of physical trauma that occurs by impact, injury or violence—for example, injuries sustained in a car crash.

As a result, this question also raises the issue of whether the scientific research arising from the war can be relied upon in cases that derive from motor vehicle crashes, falls, and other traumatic events.

Fortunately, it looks like we might be getting closer to a definitive answer. A new study published in the Journal of Neuro Trauma demonstrates there are no significant acute and subacute differences between blast and blunt concussions across multiple neurocognitive measures and symptoms in deployed soldiers.

The participants of this study were active-duty U.S. Army soldiers who presented to an outpatient medical facility within 72 hours of a concussion, as per Department of Defense criteria. Additionally, this criteria also requires an injury-causing event and, at a minimum, an altered state of consciousness. Thirty four of the participants had sustained blast injuries and sixteen had blunt injuries.

The study found that there were no statistically significant differences between blast injury and blunt injury participants in demographic, physical or psychological health factors; concussive symptoms; or automated and traditional neurocognitive testing scores within 72 hours post-injury.

The study suggested that there were no significant differences between mechanisms of injury during both the acute and subacute periods in neurobehavioral sequelae while deployed in a combat environment. “The current study supports the use of sports/mechanical concussion models for early concussion management in the deployed setting and expiration of variability in potential long-term outcomes.” (Source)

If you or someone you know has suffered a blast or blunt injury, it is recommended that you consult with legal counsel immediately.