Pentagon Hopes Brain Tissue Research Will Help Prevent Injuries
Some 260,000 cases of traumatic brain injury or TBI have been reported among U.S. service members from their time serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Well, now the Defense Department has decided to set up a brain tissue bank to better understand, treat and prevent brain injury. The tissue repository will be under the direction of neuropathologist Dr. Daniel Perl, and he joins me now. Welcome to the program.
DR. DANIEL PERL: Thank you.
BLOCK: And how will the brain tissue bank work?
PERL: Well, the brain tissue bank will collect specimens from deceased service members whose families have decided to donate the brain for use in research. And it's very similar to programs that have gone on for many years for studying other kinds of diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and more recently the problems occurring among NFL football players.
The specimens that accumulate in the brain tissue bank will be made available to expert scientists throughout the world, and we hope that this will provide us with the answers that we need in terms of understanding the nature of this problem.
BLOCK: And with the service members who have reported TBI, traumatic brain injury, what are some of the problems that you've been seeing?
PERL: We know that many of them come home from deployment and they complain of persistent problems in terms of brain function. They have sleep disorder. They have problems in terms of concentrating, memory problems, personality changes, anger management, depression. We really need to sort out how much of this is related to physical damage to the brain as opposed to a psychiatric response to being on the battlefield.
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