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Blast overpressure is generated from the firing of weapons and may cause brain injury
Date:1/28/2009

The brain may be injured by the noise, which is produced when, for example, an anti-tank weapon (Bazooka, Karl Gustav) or a howitzer (Haubits) is fired. Scientists at the Sahlgrenska Academy demonstrated mild injury to brain tissue. In response to this, the Swedish Armed Forces restricted the number of rounds per day Swedish personnel can be exposed to.

A number of reports, which have appeared during the last few years, have shown that the brain is sensitive to blast. This study determines whether the occupational standards for the highest levels of blast exposure were valid enough to avoid brain injuries. Traumatic brain injury is very common among war veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan and the majority has been exposed to explosions. The soldiers have symptoms of disorders of memory, mental processes, emotion, sleep, speech, vision and hearing. The symptoms may be similar to those of post traumatic stress syndrome, which may be caused by factors other than combat experience.

The Swedish Armed Forces sponsored a study, which has been carried out by scientists at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. They have examined the effects of noise after the firing of a Haubits, an anti tank weapon (Karl Gustav) and an automatic rifle and by the detonation of plastic explosives underwater. The study was done on anaesthetized pigs and rats.

"We examined the maximal peak level of the blast in the brain transmitted from the blast in the air, as well as, brain tissue changes that were detected with the microscope, says Annette Slj, one of the scientists who conducted the study.

The noise produced by the firing of both the haubits and the anti-tank weapon exceeds the occupational standards for highest levels of blast exposure. The scientists found that the maximal peak levels of the blast were unexpectedly high in the brain, i.e. that skin and bone appeared to protect the brain poorly. The results suggest that the degree of
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Contact: Annette Slj
annette.saljo@gu.se
46-702-240-899
University of Gothenburg
Source:Eurekalert

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