"The olfactory nerves are very small, so when there's movement, they get sheared off," said Keith Young, associate professor and vice chairman for research at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine in College Station, Texas, who also works with the VA Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans.
"People who have multiple exposures to blasts that cause loss of consciousness need to be carefully monitored for potential problems in the future," Young said.
And he believes the study, published in the latest issue of the Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development, could lead to better methods to identify veterans who need more intensive treatment.
"The study points to the possibility of using olfactory testing to look for people who might benefit from additional medical testing," Young said. "The good news about these olfactory tests is that they don't require computers, so in a field hospital, you could use scratch and sniff tests to identify people who need additional testing."
The findings may lead not only to new diagnostic techniques but to different approaches for treating people with concussions, Ruff said.
"It suggests that the treatment for these people needs to be integrated," he said. "We need to treat not just head trauma or the PTSD but to treat them together."
To learn more about PTSD, visit the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health online.
SOURCES: Robert Ruff, M.D., chief, neurology service, Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and professor of neurology, Case Western Re
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