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Quick And Easy Olfactory Tests May Help Determine Brain Injury During Combat

| Apr 14, 2015 | Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) were the “signature” injury of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a U.S. Department of Defense special report. During these two conflicts, the number of TBI victims in the U.S. Army more than tripled. The increase is attributed to excessive explosion trauma and impact injuries during combat. As a result of this alarming spike in trauma incidents, researchers have been working on a way to help diagnose TBIs while in the field in order to help victims get treatment as quickly as possible.

One such study, led by Air Force Colonel Dr. Michael Xydakis, uses olfactory, or smell, testing to help determine the severity of trauma.

Battlefield Testing of Nose Memory

Dr. Xydakis and his team may have found a way to help combat doctors pinpoint TBI severity by using a simple smell test. The test is based on the idea that different smells communicate differently with the brain in order to associate that smell with a particular sense memory. However, if that communication is hindered, or the sense memory is lost, then there is a good possibility that the patient has suffered some sort of TBI. These tests (specifically designed for blast injury patients) can help battlefield doctors to do the following:

  • Detect abnormal brain function
  • Diagnose area of injury
  • Monitor injury
  • Determine if evacuation or extraction is required
  • Get soldiers the immediate help they need to prevent further brain damage or deterioration

Although the tests are still in the research phase, findings have been promising.

Tell Us What You Think

Early diagnosis of brain trauma can help decrease trauma and recovery time and help those injured get the care they need even before they realize they have a problem. In the comment section provided, please let us know your thoughts about TBI early detection and battlefield diagnostic testing. Show your camaraderie and support by jotting down a few experiences or thoughts.

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